More than 100 Community members packed a small church in Taunton, Massachusetts, to honor a veteran who died without family November 22.
Saturday, every pew in the West Congregational Church was filled with neighbors, first responders, and military veterans who wanted to remember the life of 99-year-old U.S. Army veteran Arthur Schroeder, according to Military.com.
“I may not have known Arthur, but the outpouring of support for him here today speaks volumes to his character,” Acting Mayor Donald Cleary said during the service.
Thanks to Micaila Britto and Jeff Riccitelli of the Raynham and Taunton Veteran’s Departments, groups across the city and state were alerted to his passing and wanted to make sure he received the honor he deserved at his funeral.
“So many veterans organizations reached out and I’m so grateful that we’re here to represent him as he goes on,” Britto commented.
Schroeder, who was born February 20, 1920, served in World War II from 1942 to 1945 as a supply clerk and tank driver, CBS Boston reported.
When his wife, Ann, passed away in 2008, he lived independently and drove himself to church, sitting in the same pew every Sunday morning.
At the service, a memorial photo and Bible were in his place.
“Arthur was a beloved member here and many of us are taking his death very hard,” Rev. Ami Dion said. “He was such a constant presence that we never really considered what it would be like without him here.”
Prior to the service, military members filed down the aisles and saluted Schroeder’s flag-draped coffin. An hour later, veterans and local police stood side by side as it was placed gently inside the hearse.
Schroeder, who served in the Pacific and received a Bronze Star, touched many lives before his passing and was a true friend to those in the tightly-knit community.
“For someone like Art who was so giving and kind and had such distinguished service to our country and lived through so many historic moments, we wanted to make sure Art had a service filled with people and love and the recognition and honor he deserves,” said Mayor-Elect Shaunna O’Connell.
The day before he died, Dion said she made sure the veteran whom she thought of as a father knew how much he was loved and appreciated by the community.
“I told him how much I love him and that I would miss him terribly but we would be OK and would see him again and Ann was waiting for him and his best friends were waiting for him,” she commented, adding, “He will never be far from my heart. They don’t make them like that anymore.”
Following the service, Schroeder was laid to rest next to his beloved wife at the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne.