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World War II vet Harold Jellicoe "Coe" Percival passed away peacefully in his sleep last month at the age of 99. According to his obituary, Harold had "no close family who can attend his funeral."
Enter the Internets, and a call went out on Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit.
"If you're in the area, give him the sendoff he deserves," wrote Sgt. Rick Clement, an Afghanistan War vet who was wounded in the line of duty. "This guy needs and deserves your help."
Sgt. Clement's plea was heeded, and hundreds ignored the rain to attend Harold's funeral at the Lytham Park Crematorium. Hundreds more unable to get inside the packed crematorium stood in the rain to honor him, mourners young and old.
People said they were honored to attend.
Some even left crosses and flowers for a man they never knew.
The Guardian reports:
"As Percival was laid to rest on Armistice Day, mourners in Lytham joined millions across the country in two minutes silence before the service began. About 4,000 people stopped in Trafalgar Square in London for a service organised by the Royal British Legion.
Initially, no family members were expected to attend Percival's funeral. He never married or had children. He was, said the vicar, "a very private person – something of a nomad, carrying his possessions in a rucksack". But after the appeal hit the headlines, a handful of relatives made the tript.
Percival's nephew, Andrew Colyer-Worsell, said the family was overwhelmed by the turnout. "It was very emotional," he said. "It just shows how great the British public are."
He said his uncle might not have relished the attention during his life.
"He would be hiding around the corner right now," said Colyer-Worsell, stressing that Percival was not the sort of person to dwell on his past in the war. "He was an old soldier, not a hero: just a veteran who did his duty."
Even Sgt. Clement was there, too, in his wheelchair.
My hopes for humanity are again restored.