KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A United States Army Veteran is in his final resting place at East Tennessee Veterans Cemetery in Knoxville.
Charles Sidney Sides was classified by the U.S. Department as an ‘unclaimed veteran,” a former service member who dies with no next of kin or anyone willing to claim their remains, and who did not have sufficient resources available to cover burial and funeral expenses.
The Tri-County Veterans Honor Guard worked to change that by inviting community members to Sides’ funeral service Thursday morning. More than 100 people showed up.
“Just being part of a military family, I couldn’t imagine my father being laid to rest by himself,” said Frankie Lee, who brought her nine-year-old daughter to the funeral service.
“We need to remember those that have served us, that’s how we can live the way we live today,” said Gregg Vandergriff, a local leader for the Boy Scouts of America.
No one in the crowd had ever met the honorably discharged veteran who retired from the U.S. Army as a Staff Sergeant. A fellow service member says that doesn’t matter though.
“People don’t realize what we go through when you’re in the service, but you go through a lot,” said retired Marine Johnny Garren. “Danger, happiness, sad, we’re all one family.”
Garren also helped carry in Sides’ casket. “I just appreciate the service,” he said. “The Army, the Navy, the Marines, the Air Force, we’re all there together.”
He says he’d do it all again for any of his fellow brothers and sisters. “He didn’t have nobody. […] I’d be wanting somebody there for me.”