I love this story! Harold Jellicoe Percival was in the Royal Air Force in England and served during WWII. He died recently at age 99. And since he never married or had children, the only expected attendee of the service was a nephew.
However, the funeral home hosting the service put an advertisement in the paper, inviting other veterans to come and honor his life. Over 400 people ended up attending though when the post went viral on social media. There were so many people there, in fact, that most couldn’t fit in the chapel and had to stand outside in the rain while the service was going on. (Link here for more on the BBC story.)
Listening to the newsflash about the memorial service I was struck by curiosity about why so many people who didn’t even know him attended. Yes, he was a veteran. As ground crew he inspected and repaired planes that flew over France during battles. He had not been decorated a hero. There was no autobiography making him famous, no site named after him. People came, simply to honor a man who served.
To me it feels like people rarely pay attention to individual stories unless they have had a direct and tangible impact on their own life. We are grateful, I think, for holidays, like Veterans’ Day or Memorial Day, when we can pay this tribute. But then again… I wonder how many people spent their Veterans Day yesterday doing something other than watching football or going bowling (the two things we ended up doing with our day.) I think this is why this overheard was so immediately heart warming for me.
I realized, in thinking about this memorial service attended by so many, that each life story deserves to be told and honored. Deserves, if nothing else, an a tweetable epitaph. Mr. Percival knew how to fix engines and fight the Nazis. He loved cricket. Nomadic by nature, he carried a backpack to travel. #tweetpitaph
I am so glad to see that, in this case, Mr. Harold Percival was honored with far more than 140 characters.
Is there anyone you would like to honor with a tweetpitaph? Did you do anything special to honor Veterans’ Day? I love to hear from my blog readers. And to prove it, I am donating $10 to the non-political charity of one lucky commenter this month. Leave a comment for any of my blogs, and then check back at the end of the month to see if your name was drawn.