A final resting place in Arizona for remains of US veterans
Under the banner of a project called Missing in America, the unclaimed cremated remains of veterans are buried at the Veterans' Memorial Cemetery in Arizona. Eline van Nes captured impressions from one of the services.
Bringing them home
Volunteers bring the gilded urns from the funeral home to the hearse to be transported to the Arizona Veterans’ Military Cemetery.
For whom the bells toll
At this service volunteers stepped up to the microphone to call out the names, deployments and medals earned of each of the 34 veterans honored that day. After every name, the funeral bell was tolled by another volunteer. There were veterans who had served during the Korean War, Vietnam or the first Gulf War. A fair number of veterans had even served during World War II.
Flying the flag
Whether you agree with the concepts of war or the military or not of no importance here; these were forgotten men and women who had been fighting numerous battles — physical, mental and emotional — before their deaths.
The nationwide Missing in America Project has been providing full-honor military services for veterans whose remains go unclaimed since 2006. Volunteers visit funeral homes to identify the unclaimed cremated remains. Some urns even date to the Civil War. Young service members from every military branch carry the engraved gilded urns of the veterans to their final resting place.
A life in pictures
Esperanza Sanchez came to a funeral with her daughter. They took care of the World War II veteran Gerald E. Moore and his wife for over a year. Sanchez said Moore would say he was blind, but when nurses came into the room — especially Sanchez — he would reach out for them for a hug and a kiss.
Rest in peace
Ed Torres, the Southern Arizona coordinator for the Missing in America Project, has his Harley Davidson ready to ride in front of the hearse that takes the coffins to the cemetery.
A new family
Veterans gathered on this day to commemorate Lansing Kaye Dibbern, born in 1934, who served in the US Navy. His discharge states that he served on the USS Buck, a destroyer that operated on the Mekong River Delta and Saigon River in October 1966. "You have no family; you have no friends," a volunteer said. "So here we are as your family."
Born to be wild
Eline van Nes went to the Adair Funeral Home to meet with the organizers of the Missing in America Project and other veterans attending the procession and got a firsthand impression of the procession and a sense of the bond between veterans and the families and friends who honor them.