PRESTON, Minn. - Vietnam-era Army veterans Thomas Miller and David Mathison have no known living family members. On Friday, they were laid to rest at the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery.
In place of their family, cemetery administration invited local veterans and community members to stand in as the two men's honorary friends and family. No one at the service had ever met Miller and Mathison.
"It's a sad day but it's a good day to know that this many people that didn't know these two gentlemen took time out of their day to come and show their respects," says Craig Ugland, State Captain of the Minnesota Patriot Guard, one of the groups invited to be a part of the service.
"Whether you come from a large family or have no family, here you're going to have family," says Robert Gross, Cemetery Administrator.
The cemetery has buried less than 10 unclaimed veterans since the cemetery opened. Their flags are kept safe at the cemetery. "The hope that someday we get a call from a family member or someday someone comes up the hill and says, 'that's my great uncle' and at that time we hope to move that flag forward to those family members where it belongs," says Gross.