It was a small obituary for Edward K. Pearson, 80, that appeared in a local newspaper recently.
It simply said he was going to be interred at Sarasota National Cemetery on Tuesday and that, “This veteran has no immediate family and all are welcome to attend.”
And then, social media happened:
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) September 29, 2019
Ok, twitter, do your thing.
Mr. Edward K Pearson, a veteran, is being buried tomorrow in Florida. He has no family, according to his obituary which was only 2 lines.
Everyone is welcome to attend.
Burial: October 1, at 12:30pm at Sarasota National Cemetery 9810 State Road 72 pic.twitter.com/gol1eNkJ7z
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) September 30, 2019
The pavilion at Sarasota National Cemetery was designed to hold 3,200 people for funerals that would be typical for well-known individuals.
U.S. Army veteran Edward Pearson was not a well-known person, but the 80-year-old’s funeral was standing room only on Tuesday as at least 4,000 people packed into the pavilion. The line of cars kept streaming into the cemetery and an hour into the service, hundreds more were still trying to get in to send the veteran off with honor.
“I started getting calls from all over the country and some from as far as Germany around 8 a.m. (Monday),” said cemetery volunteer Tina Beeler. “I haven’t seen this many people since this place was dedicated. The response has been phenomenal.”
There were veterans, retired veterans, active duty personnel in uniform, family of veterans, friends of veterans, students with teachers. All just wanted to pay their respect to a man they had never met.
According to his military discharge papers, Pearson served in the U.S. Army from 1962-1964 and after being honorably discharged went on to become an engineer. Click the video below to watch.