Volunteers sought to attend funeral of WWII veteran who died without surviving family

Massachusetts state and local officials are asking for volunteers to attend the final services on Thursday for a 97-year-old Army veteran and Lawrence native who died leaving no family members behind.

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James McCue was 21 when he enlisted in the Army in 1943. The highly decorated World War II veteran served in five major battles, including the D-Day invasion, Massachusetts Secretary of Veterans' Services Francisco Urena tweeted Wednesday.

McCue, whose wife died before him, passed away Feb. 7 in a Methuen nursing home. He was born and raised in Lawrence.

Members of the board of directors for Lawrence's Bellevue Cemetery reached out to the city's director of Veterans' Services, Jaime Melendez, asking for his help gathering volunteers to attend McCue's graveside services.

Melendez quickly spread the word at a conference among other veterans' services officers and on social media.

"He’s definitely a hero to me," Melendez said of McCue. "I am asking my fellow veterans and the veteran community and the community in general to help us honor him and come out."

To Melendez, there is no one more deserving of being laid to rest honorably. With so much interest already, he expects a large turnout.

"I consider the World War II veterans a national treasure, and so I like to honor them and cherish them while they’re still here. But we definitely need to honor them when they’re gone," Melendez said. "We have an old saying in the military. It’s ‘Lest we forget.’ So let us not forget." 

McCue's services, complete with full military honors, will take place at 1 p.m. at the veterans' lot of the Bellevue Cemetery at 100 Reservoir St., in Lawrence.

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