Jordan Marks, a local high school baseball coach heard about the 94-year-old's death and asked his students to help give him a well-deserved goodbye.
A group of high school students is being lauded for helping to provide a dignified goodbye for a veteran who didn't have anybody to give him a proper send-off. Ralph Lambert, a former U.S. Air Force veteran, passed away in Louisiana on February 8 at the age of 94. The veteran served the nation from 1950 to 1971 and he didn't have any family or friends to give him the send-off he deserved. Despite more than two decades of service to the nation, it appeared Lambert was going to be cremated with no one even paying tribute to him. When Jordan Marks, a local high school baseball coach, heard about Lambert being bid goodbye with no one present, he knew he had to intervene and help. “I picked the six seniors we have. I try to teach them the game of baseball but also the game of life, and anytime we can serve a community member or especially somebody that served for our country, we are more than happy to do it,” said Marks, according to KPLC-TV.
Marks checked with his basketball team and had six players from the school team attend the funeral. All six students are seniors at Menard High School; they were enlisted to attend the burial and carry Lambert’s coffin. Marks wanted to give the national hero the sendoff he deserved but also viewed it as an opportunity to teach his players a valuable lesson. Marks believes in not just molding players but also shaping their character. The coach has always been an active member of the community and he believes in watching out for each other, just as teammates would do on the court. The six seniors carried the veteran's flag-draped casket in a poignant moment. The six seniors are Ashton Veade, Cameron Kinder, Jacob Giordano, Jackson Ford, Ashton Brodnax and Hunter Foster. The casket was carried to the Central Louisiana Veterans Cemetery. Senior Jacob Giordano said it was an honor for them to be the pallbearer for the veteran who had no family and friends. Cameron Kinder said it's easy to forget there are people out there without families and added that he was happy to fill in to give the 94-year-old an honorable goodbye.
People lauded the kids for their heart. "What a bunch of kind and caring young men!! We are ALL proud of you!!" wrote Paula. Another user added, "So so proud of these young men!! What honor this veteran had to be escorted to his resting place by these upstanding guys." Carra wrote, "Absolutely awesome, thank you young boys serving others especially for some one who served our country."
It's not uncommon for veterans to be cremated without friends or family. Missing In America Project is one organization that works to help locate, identify and inter the unclaimed cremated remains of American veterans. The group works in tandem with private, state and federal organizations to provide honor and respect to those who have served this country by securing a final resting place for these forgotten heroes. "You served your country through a war, or through peacetime. You expected to receive a military burial, recognition by our government of your commitment to our great country. You expected to have honor and respect paid to you as a result of your service to our great country. Instead, you reside on a shelf in a mortuary or a storage facility at a crematorium," read a description on their website.