MONTEVALLO, Ala. (WIAT) — UPDATE: This story led to an investigation into Julee Johns and her claims of being a 16-year veteran. To see the results of the findings click here.
Original: A law states that all eligible veterans have the right to full military honors at their funeral, but sometimes, whether the family didn’t plan it that way, or they were a homeless veteran, it doesn’t always happen. As such, every year the Alabama National Cemetery makes sure every veteran buried there gets the honors they deserve.
Julee Johns is a 16-year veteran of the United States Marine Corp. She’s seen the same military honors seen Thursday at the Alabama National Cemetary at funerals.
“It’s very emotional, because you lose people and that’s kind of your way of saying goodbye, having closure,” Johns said.
The ceremony held Thursday for people buried at the Alabama National Cemetery during the last year who, for one reason or another, didn’t have military honors performed at their funeral.
Every one of the names was read aloud and then the American flag was folded over and presented. Gail Pugh received the flag as a family member stand-in. “It was one of the most poignant moments I’ve ever experienced,” said Pugh.
As the Memorial Day weekend approaches, Pugh and Johns say they hope people remember what Memorial Day is really about this year. “It’s a day you should reflect on people who have lost their lives, people who have stepped up and offered their life up,” Johns said.
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