ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Dozens of strangers showed up Friday afternoon at the Jacksonville National Cemetery to make sure a Florida homeless veteran got the proper burial he deserved.
Many of the people attending didn’t know John Meade Jr. was a veteran when he was alive. But they wanted to honor him properly, now that he’s gone.
“He was very much appreciated, and we all appreciate the service that he did. Not only for everybody else, but what he stood for,” said Shirley Greco, who attended the ceremony.
He had a lot of family at his funeral – maybe not in blood, but in spirit.
“I really do wish that he could be here to see the turnout today for him, I really do. And I think there’s a way that he knows how it turned out today,” Greco said.
“Whoever the vet is, doesn’t get buried with no family, so we become their family,” Wayne May said.
For at least 10 years, Meade sat on a bench in downtown St. Augustine every day, and was a friendly face to everyone who passed by.
While he talked to everybody, no one knew much about him.
After Meade died, an officer with the St. Augustine Police Department spent 80 hours digging for information about him.
When the officer found out he served in the Army, he wanted Meade to have a proper burial. He asked the community to come out to Jacksonville’s National Cemetery, and they showed up by the dozens.
“People did care about him, and he’s never alone,” said Ken White, a veteran.
“I wish I would’ve known him,” another veteran said.
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