200 Show to Funeral of Veteran With No Known Relatives After Internet Campaign
Four people were expected to attend the funeral of Serina Vine, a formerly homeless veteran of World War II.
Instead, about 200 showed up to honor her after veterans' groups organized a social media campaign, since she had no known living relatives.
Vine, a graduate of the University of California, served in the Navy from 1944 to 1946 in radio intelligence and spoke three languages, according to the obituary published by A. L. Bennett and Son Funeral Home.
Vine's story hit home for Army Maj. Jaspen Boothe, who used to be homeless herself. She found out about Vine's funeral plans via a Facebook message from a Marine veteran and decided to get the word out.
When she was told there were only going to be four people at the service, as Vine had no known relatives in the area she said, "That didn't sit right with me."
Boothe then put the word out on social media, contacting several groups including Ms. Veteran America, who put out an appeal of their own.
When Boothe arrived at the cemetery, she was astonished. "I thought they had three or four things going on," she said of the crowd gathered at the cemetery, at first not believing it was all for Vine. "Now she has 200 known family and friends in the area."
Boothe said she did not want people to remember Vine as just homeless. "She was an educated woman, she loved to dance and go to church on Sundays."
Martin Fuller of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs painted a similar picture. "I've never seen anything like it," said Fuller. "I felt like I had to go because I didn’t think anyone was going to show up. The information just went viral."
Fuller met Vine in the VA Community Living Center, where he appointed her a legal custodian. He says that because her discharge and service papers were missing, little more is known about where she served and what her responsibilities were.