GALLERY: Hundreds pay respects at service for unclaimed veterans

By Published: January 18, 2019 4:00 AM CT

What could have been a very lonely funeral service was attended by hundreds of community members who packed the West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery on Thursday, Jan. 17. Cars lined up and down Forest Hill-Irene Road, waiting to get in even after the ceremony was underway.

Veterans and soldiers created a sacred space through which three caskets would pass, saluting each one.

The three men honored – Wesley Russell, 76; Arnold Klechka, 71; and Charles Fox, 60 –  were veterans who died in the fall of 2018 but whose remains were never claimed.

In front of a standing room only and overflow crowd, they were laid to rest. “Today, we salute you," said Gary Taylor, funeral director at Memphis Funeral Home. "Today we all claim you as our own." 


Veterans West Tennessee Veterans Cemetery

Karen Pulfer Focht

Karen Pulfer Focht is a freelance photojournalist in Memphis and former staff photographer at The Commercial Appeal. She has won numerous awards in her career, many for in-depth projects about children and families in Memphis. Most notably, she was presented with the Society of Professional Journalists' Medallion for Distinguished Service to the American People for her series on infant mortality in Memphis, "Born to Die." Karen was recognized as one of the world's top contemporary photographers by both Magnum and LensCulture in 2017. Her work is regularly published in newspapers and magazines around the world.

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