When a loved one dies, people often hold a funeral to honor their memory and remains.
Historically, male family members would carry the deceased to their final resting place. Now, people often travel by vehicle, and it’s common to see a procession of funeral cars making their way down the street.
Unfortunately, funeral directors say driving in a procession can be dangerous. People don’t know what to do when they see one and often don’t show them the respect they deserve— but in this touching story, a kind-hearted soldier went above and beyond to demonstrate just that.
Last summer, Kentucky resident Erin Hester was puzzled when she spotted a soldier standing at attention outside his car in the middle of the pouring rain.
At first, it wasn’t clear what he was doing, but when Hester craned her neck to look forward, she instantly broke down.
Ahead, she could see a funeral procession, and it was clear the kind-hearted soldier was showing the stranger his respects.
In an interview with CNN, she recalled: “We had come to a red light when the intersection was blocked by our local police department. The procession lasted at least a minute and he stood the entire time at attention.”
People not respecting funeral processions is a personal pet peeve for Hester. So, when she saw the soldier, she was instantly touched by his act of respect. Then, she whipped out her cell phone and snapped what would soon become a viral shot.
Sharing the photo to Facebook, Hester wrote: “I was so completely touched by this today.”
“I always get frustrated when I see cars that don’t pull to the side and stop for a procession, but this gentleman went above and beyond.”
“It made my heart happy to see the amount of respect that this gentleman showed a family that he doesn’t even know.”
When Hester posted the photo, it immediately went viral.
Soon, the man was identified as Col. Jack L. Usrey, senior Army advisor to the adjutant general at the Tennessee National Guard Headquarters.
“I didn’t really think,” he told the United States Army regarding his motives.
“I just did what my parents taught me to do growing up. I stopped, got out, saluted the police escort and held my salute as the hearse and family drove by.”
After going on his way, Usrey didn’t even give it a second thought. “It’s baffling to me that something so simple caused so much attention,” he later said about his newfound fame.
“I guess it just goes to show how simple it would be for our nation to be more united if we just treated each other using the Golden Rule.”
Since being uploaded, the photo of Usrey has been shared more than 130,000 times. People are full of praise for the man’s actions, with others having similar stories to share:
“I remember being in my aunt’s funeral possession; we traveled from Florida to Alabama. People came up from the fields with hats off in respect. I was amazed. First time I saw this. So respectful.”
“When my Grandma Sheldon passed, the road construction crew all took off their hard hats and stood still as we passed by on our way to the burial. That memory has always stayed with me. Still touches my heart today.”
The story really goes to show that small gestures can make a big difference in someone’s life.
Watch the heartwarming video below.
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