Korean War veteran Hezekiah Perkins had planned his funeral more than two decades in advance, paying for a cemetery plot and funeral arrangements to prepare for when he passed.
But when the 90-year-old Cincinnati man passed away this week, there was one major hitch; his family, who lived out of the area, were not able to make it to the area in time.
With the funeral approaching and the prospect of no one showing up to honor him, Spring Grove Cemetery put out a public notice on its Facebook page asking for members of the public to attend. The notice gave directions to the section of the cemetery where Perkins was being buried, noting that some of the cemetery’s employees were already set to serve as pallbearers.
“We are asking any members of our community who are available to attend his burial tomorrow to please contact our Spring Grove Funeral Homes Main Location… and ask for more information,” the notice read.
It had help from many across the internet, with a number of people sharing the notice that the cemetery had posted and encouraging anyone in the area who was able to attend. That included CNN host Jake Tapper, who shared the notice on Twitter and asked anyone available to come and honor Perkins.
The plea drew some viral interest from across the area, and thousands of people ultimately showed up to honor Perkins, who was buried with full military honors.
CINCINNATI!!!— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) May 25, 2019
TODAY AT 3 PM Korean War Veteran Hezekiah Perkins, 90, will be buried in Cincinnati's Spring Grove Cemetery -- Section 137, Lot 318, Space 1.
Officials say he has no immediate family living in the area so the public is invited.#MemorialDayWeekend pic.twitter.com/03tZhd4Ppj
The cemetery then posted a second notice on Facebook thanking the community for the response.
“Thank you to the thousands of patriotic citizens who came to pay tribute to Veteran Perkins today. We are humbled by the turnout and so very proud of our Spring Grove Family and especially our community,” the cemetery posted on its Facebook page. “Thank you to everyone who helped share this story on Facebook and in the media.”
But the community did more than just show up and watch. Video from the funeral showed that members from what appeared to be a biker group honoring veterans stepped in to serve as pallbearers, while crowds sat by the graveside and back throughout the cemetery. Other video showed that the biker group led the funeral procession into the cemetery, with a number of cars following behind.
Visited the Korean War Vet Hezekiah Perkins funeral to pay my respect. Amazing turnout for an honorable soldier. pic.twitter.com/OStjQOLnMa— T. Nicole Taylor (@TruthHurts513) May 25, 2019
The amazing response generated even more viral interest, pushed in part by the upcoming Memorial Day weekend and a desire of many to honor the sacrifices of Americans service members and veterans.