Dozens of people gathered at Fort Lyon National Cemetery in Las Animas to pay their respects to a veteran most of them never knew.
After receiving an email late Tuesday afternoon indicating that Horace Marrinan would be laid to rest Wednesday and that his family would be unable to attend the funeral, the information was posted on the La Junta Tribune-Democrat's three Facebook pages. Within just a couple of hours, the post was shared hundreds of times.
Veterans from around the Arkansas Valley and beyond responded to the call.
“We just need to be here,” said Lee Hales, who traveled from Canon City. “And he has no family or anything, so someone has to be here.”
Hales made the trip to Fort Lyon with fellow-veteran Bill Agnew, who served in Vietnam from 1961-81.
When Agnew saw the news about the funeral, he said he asked Hales to join him; a few hours later they made the nearly two-and-a-half-hour trip.
“He’s a veteran and we’re veterans,” Agnew said, “so he’s got his military family showing up.”
Billy Hallman, president of the Post 9 American Legion Riders, said that funerals such as Marrinan's happen often.
“Between that and a lot of the young veteran suicides and homelessness, we end up with a lot of people who don’t know where their relatives are,” Hallman said, “And so when they end up dying and (the family) can’t be notified, they might not find out for a couple of years later until they do a search and the grave site comes up.”
As Marrinan was laid to rest, those in attendance bowed their heads in prayer.
A brief moment of silence was broken by the gun salute, followed by the playing of the "taps."
Marrinan had family, after all.