People on social media are outraged over a photo showing a Ringgold, Ga., veteran’s body on display for visitation without a coffin, which his son says was due to a dispute over money with the funeral home.
Photos of 71-year-old George Taylor, a Vietnam veteran, are circulating on social media as controversy swirls over Heritage Funeral Home’s apparent decision not to give him a coffin unless the family paid $9,000.
Taylor’s son said there was an issue with a life insurance payment.
Here’s what he told WTVC:
At first, we were okay with it, but like I told the guy, I said this was very disrespectful to my dad. They came to me and told me that unless that nine thousand dollars was paid, they couldn’t put him into the ground at the military thing, he would have to sit in the freezer until we paid it or the insurance came through.
As a result, posts like this one from Ella Moss were made on Facebook.
This Is What Heritage Funeral Home Did To This United States Veteran. Heritage Was Told By Insurance Company That There Check Would Be There Tomorrow. They Had To Receive The Death Certificate First , Before Releasing The Check. An They Over Nighted The Checked To Them. But They Still Refused To Allow Him To Be Put In A Gasket. This Is How His Friends An Family Had To See Him. I am In Total Disbelief. Can Someone Please Help Me Get Ahold Of A News Reporter. I Can Not Find A Phone # For Them Anywhere. What A Disgrace They Have Done To This Soldier.
Her post has been shared more than 3,000 times.
But the funeral home and a relative are telling a different story.
“We were trying to honor the request and let them have some closure by viewing their loved one,” David Cummings of the funeral home said. “We serve this community. We love the community. we serve this community in everything we do.”
Beverly Roe, who said she was the sister-in-law of the deceased veteran, said that the family “shook on” the arrangement.
“His son was [okay with it] too. We shook on it. The three of us shook on it and then all of a sudden, somebody comes in and wants to stir up trouble,” she said. “These guys [at the funeral home] haven’t done anything. They were so nice.”
Whatever the case, the director of the Chattanooga National Cemetery saw the Facebook posts and called Heritage Funeral Home to guarantee that Taylor would be properly buried in a coffin.
Director Charles Arnold says he contacted the funeral home and was told Taylor would be placed in a proper casket for the burial.
“We wanted to make sure that this burial would meet our standards, as we would do with every veteran,” Charles Arnold said.
Taylor got the respect he deserves.
When his body was transferred to a funeral home vehicle for a procession, a woman identified as Tiffany Lambert stood outside with her hand over her heart as she played “God Bless the USA.”
She commented on WTVC’s Facebook page by saying it was the right thing to do.
“I had to. Someone has to show this man the respect he deserves I only played the song as they loaded this American Soldier up – Thank you sir for your service and God Bless The U.S.A.!” she said.
Rest in peace, sir, and thank you for your service.