A 91-year-old formerly homeless World War II veteran who had lived in a Veterans Affairs Community Living Center in the Washington, D.C., area died in late May, but because she had no known family, it was expected that nobody would attend her funeral.
Serina Vine had enlisted in the Navy in 1944 and served in the radio intelligence division for a couple of years before leaving the military and enrolling at and graduating from the University of California-Berkeley, where she learned to speak three different languages, according to The Fredricksburg Free Lance-Star.
Sadly, because she had no spouse, children or other known relatives, it was expected that only about four people would attend her military funeral at the Quantico National Cemetery. But that didn’t sit right with Army Reserve Maj. Jaspen Boothe, who decided to do something to change that situation.
Boothe, who experienced a brief stint of homelessness herself at one point, runs an organization that helps homeless female veterans. She began to spread the word about Vine’s funeral, seeking volunteers to attend the funeral as a tribute to the veteran’s service and sacrifice.
On the day of the funeral, roughly 200 people showed up at the cemetery for the funeral service, including men and women in uniform and veteran bikers wearing their jeans and leather vests, all to pay their respect to a woman they’d never met.
“We are all a testament to what we do when we are called to honor our fellow brothers and sisters,” said Boothe.
Her words were echoed by retired Marine William Jones, who said, “We serve together, so therefore we should not die alone.”
A eulogy was delivered by local pastor Dwight Michael, who declared: “We might not know much about sister Vine, but what we do know is she should be remembered as one who had a character to serve and that she contributed to the life that we enjoy today in this nation.”
This formerly homeless woman and seemingly forgotten World War II veteran was set to be buried with few witnesses, but thankfully a handful of veterans took it upon themselves to gather a crowd together to pay homage to an unknown woman worthy of their respect.