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Hundreds Honor Veteran They Never Met

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MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa -- Hundreds of people gathered at The Iowa Veterans Home Cemetery on Monday to pay their respects to a man they never knew.

Last week 81-year-old Iowa veteran Charles Lanam died. He had no living family members.

The Mitchell Family Funeral Home was worried no one would show up for his funeral, so they took to social media. The response was overwhelming.

Hundreds of Iowans, including veterans, attended the funeral. Many never met Lanam.

When Sgt. Grant Day, with the Army National Guard, saw the news on Facebook, he suited up with his two friends and attended the funeral.

"Regardless of his branch of service, and regardless of the time he served, he is a brother. And it’s important to be present when putting a brother to rest," Day said.

With no family there to accept his carefully folded flag, the commandant of the Iowa Veterans Home stepped in.

“What an honor to be asked to receive his flag,” said Jodi Tymeson.

Tymeson also said that while Lanam had no known living relatives, Lanam was like family to the veterans’ home.

“We like to believe that we’re just like their family, we provide their care and really do get to know the residents,” Tymeson said.

The hundreds who attended honored a man who lived a life without fanfare, a man who left this Earth without knowing the impression he’d leave on hundreds of strangers.

Lanam was born and raised in Fairfield.

Lynn Melling describes the funeral below: