Veterans finally get proper burials at Jacksonville National Cemetery

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Each ring of the bell represents a veteran finally laid to rest at Jacksonville National Cemetery with the military honors they deserve.

The cremated remains of 10 of the 13 men and women honored had been at the A.B. Coleman Mortuary until Friday.

"These men and women signed on the dotted line and fought for our country, and for them to be sitting on funeral home shelves and not to be honored in the proper way they need to be, that's a given," said Kathy Church, of Missing in America Project.

The project teamed up with A.B. Mortuary to determine how many of its unclaimed remains were veterans or their spouses.

Once they found out, they worked to notify family and prepare to give them a proper burial.

"I'm too a veteran, and I would want to be taken care of and I would want honors rendered to me for the service I've rendered to my country," said Sheila Williams, of the mortuary.

Veterans motorcycle groups led the way to Jacksonville National Cemetery, where hundreds of other veterans friends and family were waiting. They took part in the military ceremony the veterans, who served in World War II, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf, never received.

France Walker's mother, Grace Davis, was the only military spouse laid to rest there. Her husband, Nathaniel Davis, served in World War II, and Davis had been at the funeral home since 2010.

"It means a lot. It means a lot," Walker said. "It makes me feel so proud of her, of her husband and all the other people who are here."

Organizers are already planning the next ceremony. They've already verified another 90 veterans and spouses from another funeral home in Jacksonville.

The ceremony also honored veterans whose remains were in other places. Sherry Bell's husband served in World War II, and she'd kept his remains at home after he died in 2004.

Bell said this kind of ceremony brings families peace.

"To me that means more than anything in the world that they're putting somewhere where they're at peace, and it's kept up and there's such respect for everybody out here," Bell said.