A veteran thought to have no existing family members was honored by an entire community at his funeral. Now, it turns out there were two living blood relatives, as community members in an outpouring of support made sure a man who served was honored in life and for his service to his country.
We originally reported the story of veteran Edward K. Pearson of Naples. Thousands shared his name around the world after they found out he would be buried without any living family to represent him. So thousands showed up to his funeral at Sarasota National Cemetery as well.
It’s been confirmed by the funeral service that Pearson has two living sons. They learned of their father’s death after it gained widespread publicity, a day before the service Oct. 1. But they wished to not be named and gave the funeral service permission to proceed.
“I can’t understand it,” said Cpl. Marlin Alexander, a U.S. Marines veteran. “I don’t know what to say about that. I just can’t understand.”
American flags, patriot guards and an entire crowd of people witnessed the free funeral service for Private Pearson — not one a living blood relative.
Alexander, who served during the Korean War, learned Pearson left behind two sons. But Legacy Options Funeral and Cremation Services near Naples told us the sons had not spoken to their father in years, and they did not go to his service.
“There were plenty of people there,” said Capt. James Albert, a U.S. Merchant Marines veteran. “And he did not get buried alone, and that’s all we really care about.”
Albert works with Collier County Veterans Council, which helps veterans and their families reconnect before it’s too late.
“We have a lot of people who are interested in knowing what’s happening with those people someday are going to start to forget about,” Albert said. “And we can’t let that happen”
Albert hopes that cases like Pearson’s don’t continue to happen. But he stands proud of all the community members who showed a veteran he was recognized for his action on behalf of the nation.
“Somebody was there to say goodbye,” Albert said. “And that’s really more important to us more than anything else.”