A memorial ceremony has been held for 25 military veterans whose cremains were left unclaimed by family members. The cremains will be recognized in a ceremony in
Jersey and then the ashes will be laid to rest in , in a
military cemetery there. Washington
The unclaimed cremains include those from seven veterans born in the 1830s or '40s, and may be from the Civil War, There are also cremains from 12 veterans of World War I and as many as ten others from more recent conflicts.
Francis Carrasco is the chairman of New Jersey Mission of Honor, an organization working to reunite unclaimed ashes of veterans with family members or, barring that, a formal burial. Carrasco said that, as a Vietnam vet, he feels he knows what it is like to be disrespected and pushed aside. The unclaimed veterans deserve better.
Most of the 25 military veterans recently interred were left at Garden State Crematorium in
Bergen, New Jersey; the veterans
were all from Bergen and counties. New Jersey Mission of Honor
worked with the parent company to locate the families of the vets prior to
New Jersey Mission of Honor, started in 2009, aims to coordinate with state veterans’ organizations to find, properly identify and properly inter any unclaimed
veteran cremains. To date, New
Jersey Mission of Honor has located the cremains of almost 200 veterans with
surviving family members and has formally buried 105 more. The oldest cremains
located so far date from a vet who fought in the Mexican Border War between
1915 and 1918. New Jersey Mission of
Honor also looks for unclaimed veteran cremains left behind at hospitals,
crematoriums, veterans' homes, prisons and senior homes. U.S.
The cremains of veterans that are unclaimed can remain in the basements of funeral homes for decades. Determining the next of kin for relocated cremains can take months or even years. New Jersey Mission of Honor is also working with cremains of an additional 75 vets, looking for their next of kin. Each veteran is buried within a mahogany urn and with an American flag.
New Jersey Mission of Honor is entirely funded by private donations and is comprised entirely of volunteers from non-profit groups and veteran organizations.