Thousands turn out for funeral of Florida veteran with no family

A motorcycle group carries American flags during funeral service for U.S. Army veteran Edward K. Pearson Oct. 1, 2019, at the Sarasota National Cemetary in Sarasota, Fla. Pearson had no family but thousands who appreciated his service bid farewell.

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A motorcycle group carries American flags during funeral service for U.S. Army veteran Edward K. Pearson Oct. 1, 2019, at the Sarasota National Cemetary in Sarasota, Fla. Pearson had no family but thousands who appreciated his service bid farewell.

Thousands of people turned out to bid a final farewell to a Florida military veteran Tuesday who died without any surviving family members.

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United States Army vet Edward Karl Pearson, 80, of Naples died on Aug. 31, and the funeral home handling his burial invited the public to attend, according to WFTS-TV.

And attend they did. As many as 2,000 people showed up at Pearson's internment at Sarasota National Cemetery, The Associated Press reported.

The invite went viral, spreading fast after social media posts from Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and CNN’s Jake Tapper.

"He did not know me when he served his country, and I don't know him when I bury him, but we are one. He's my family," Cathy Strammer, who attended the funeral, told WFTS.

Veteran Ed Lyons, assistant director at the cemetery, told the news station that Pearson should be honored for his service to the nation.

“It’s what these veterans deserve; it’s what this veteran deserves,” Lyons said.

Pearson was originally from Pennsylvania and moved to Florida about 25 years ago, according to the AP. He worked at several local stores over the years and made friends in the community.

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