More than a dozen headstones are added to DFW National Cemetery each and every day. But on Thursday, 17 names were read out loud in one funeral service held to honor the men and women who chose to serve their country in both life and in death.
"And I just think it's an awesome thing," said Wendy Ingersoll of the Patriot Guard Riders who provided the honor guard and escort for the veterans at their graveside service.
What she finds so awesome is that the three veterans of the Navy, five from of the Army, and nine from the Air Force made one final patriotic choice. They donated their bodies to science. "Oh I think it's a selfless sacrifice," said Claudia Yellott of the Willed Body Program at UNT Health Science Center.
The veterans were among those who made the decision to donate their bodies for medical research and surgical training. "So it's definitely a selfless sacrifice, not just of the donors but also of their families," said Yellott.
Some of those families said goodbye to their loved one months ago. Some of the veterans didn't have surviving family members at all. So Thursday the Patriot Guard stood for them and marveled at this second sacrifice."Maybe one of these 17 veterans, they find a cure for cancer. Or they find a cure for MS," said Ingersoll. "A lot of good comes out of what they've done. And it's an honorable thing they did."
And as the medical staff from UNT Health received each veteran's honorary flag, they marveled in this final choice too. "They sacrificed for their country in life," said Yellott. "They've sacrificed with donation in death for medical education and to just be able to bring them to this beautiful facility as a last honor is really important to us."
An honor for the souls who served their country as many times as they possibly could, even long after those souls were gone.