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Unclaimed veterans buried with military honor

Flags are draped over the coffins of indigent

Flags are draped over the coffins of indigent military veterans who are being given a military funeral at Calverton National Cemetery. (January 8, 2011) Credit: Ed Betz

Flag-draped coffins of 20 veterans who died in New York City and whose bodies went unclaimed were buried in a ceremony that began Saturday morning at Calverton National Cemetery in Calverton.

The soldiers served in war or peace time from the 1940s to the 1970s. Several groups combined efforts to organize and provide for the burials, including Dignity Memorial, a national network of funeral home directors, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which will reimburse the city for some expenses, and the NYPD, and Nassau and Suffolk police departments which provided police escorts.

No U.S. veteran should end up abandoned at a morgue, tribute organizers believe.

"If they fell on hard times . . . we don't look at that," said Mike Picerno, director of Calverton National Cemetery, earlier this week. "We just want them to get the burial they deserve."

Besides a hearse and a flag-draped coffin, each will receive a concrete marker and individual headstone.

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