KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Every year Berry Funeral Home partners with the East Tennessee Veterans Honor Guard and Patriot Guard Riders to pay tribute to those who have served our country but have no family or friends to claim them.

Seven unclaimed soldiers received a proper service and burial Wednesday, March 22. Many came out even in the rain to honor those who have served our country.

The Vice President of the East Tennessee Veterans Honor Guard, Paul Trotter, said, “all of those who served deserve a last recognition.”

Many who have served our country and have passed away are usually surrounded by family and friends and given a proper military burial. However, on Wednesday, the soldiers were surrounded by people they’ll never know.

“Most of the folks that will be there today have had an experience like this. They have buried a family member and like they tell us whenever we hear taps, the chaplain will tell us at the services, now taps may have not meant much to you but it’s going to mean a lot more to you now,” said Jim McPherson, Berry Funeral Home Funeral Director.

“I’m a navy veteran myself and I find it a way of giving back and it also gives me an opportunity to do this with my 11-year-old son because all lessons aren’t taught in a classroom,” said Patriot Guard Riders Senior Rider, Alfred Holland.

This lesson includes making sure all who have served are buried with dignity and respect.

Holland added, “it gives me a good feeling as a veteran to know that these men are not forgotten and their service is not forgotten and the community actually shows support for their service.”

“A service like today that immediate family could not be here or for whatever reason, were not here, did not claim them, and it’s just sad to think that these veterans served their country and had their last honors by nonfamily members,” stated Trotter.

These seven soldiers were surrounded by strangers they’ll never know who are making sure their service to our country won’t be forgotten.

The Patriot Guard Riders led the procession from Berry Funeral Home to the East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery. The group, made up of military veterans, travels the state attending the funerals of military members and first responders.