Four United States military veterans found new friends and family in Ocean City on Thursday before their remains were interred with honor at the Cape May County Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Hundreds of veterans and citizens gathered at Veterans Memorial Park in Ocean City as American Legion Post 524 hosted a ceremony to honor the memory of four Cape May County veterans who passed away — but whose remains had been left unclaimed at an Ocean City funeral home.
The veterans had no family member or friend to claim them after they died.
"That's just wrong," State Senator Jeff Van Drew said in remarks during the ceremony.
Van Drew helped sponsor legislation signed into law in 2009 that allows veterans groups to claim remains if nobody else has after a year. The legislation allowed Ocean City's Post 524 to organize Thursday's event.
The ceremony honored four U.S. Army veterans who served during World War II:
- Private First Class Edward F. Bart: Born in Camden on March 5, 1914. Served from Dec. 10, 1943 to Feb. 6, 1946. Died on Oct. 13, 1994.
- Private First Class Albert A. Colavito: Born in Philadelphia on November 15, 1919. Served from Sept. 18, 1941 to Jan. 31, 1946. Died on June 28, 2011.
- Private James B. Davis: Born in Philadelphia on April 4, 1916. Served from Jan. 23, 1945 to Sept. 26, 1945. Died on April 23, 1984.
- Corporal Alto Dubose: Born in Brundidge, Ala., on Jan. 7, 1907. Served from Oct. 3, 1942 to Nov. 22, 1945. Died on Dec. 6, 1988.
"Because of the efforts of Post 524, we're grateful that four of our veterans will find a home," New Jersey American Legion Commander Gene O'Grady said, thanking Post 524 Commander Bob Marzulli for his work.
"In the County of Cape May, no veteran's remains will ever again sit on a shelf," said Freeholder Gerry Thornton, director of Cape May County Veterans Affairs.
Mayor Jay Gillian capped his remarks off with a quote from Elmer Davis, director of the U.S. War Information Office during World War II:
"This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave."
The ceremony was followed by a procession to the Veterans Cemetery, where interment of the four veterans was accompanied by a fire squad, "Taps" and honor guard.