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Hundreds Of Veterans, Supporters Attend Funeral For WWII Veteran With No Living Family03:01
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The body of veteran James McCue was buried with full military honors at Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The body of veteran James McCue was buried with full military honors at Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Hundreds of people went to the funeral of a WWII veteran after learning that he had no surviving family to attend.

James McCue, of Lawrence, died last week at a health care center in Methuen. He was 97. An obituary said he had outlived his wife and had no other living family members.

Pallbearers carry the body of James McCue to the site where he will be buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Pallbearers carry the body of James McCue to the site where he will be buried in Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)
(Jesse Costa/WBUR)

News of the serviceman's burial quickly circulated on social media this week after a veterans advocate called on Massachusetts residents to show up to the services. This prompted many veteran groups and others to attend.

“Just another guy down. We’re running out of [WWII] veterans,” said Calvin Perry, an U.S. Air Force veteran from Andover. “This was one that landed at Normandy and has five battle stars. It’s a worthy day to show up and honor him.”

We’re running out of [WWII] veterans. This was one that landed at Normandy and has five battle stars. It’s a worthy day to show up and honor him.

Calvin Perry, an U.S. Air Force veteran

The closest person to McCue to attend his funeral was Doris Sevigny, 91, who had lived below him in an apartment complex for more than 20 years, according to Sevigny’s niece, Diane Brown.

“He was her eyes because she was legally blind, and she was his health care proxy,” said Brown. “It was nice to see them together. They had happiness together. He was a happy man.”

A few years ago, McCue fell ill and moved to Cedar View Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Methuen, said Brown. Sevigny visited him for several years until she too fell ill about three weeks ago and joined him at the nursing home. The two had played bingo the night before McCue died, the niece added.

The flag that laid over James McCue’s casket is ceremoniously folded up. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The flag that laid over James McCue’s casket is ceremoniously folded up. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A flag was presented to James McCue’s good friend 91-year-old Doris Sevigny, of Lawrence. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
A flag was presented to James McCue’s good friend 91-year-old Doris Sevigny, of Lawrence. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

During the ceremony, military officers gave Sevigny the folded flag from on top of McCue’s casket. Afterwards, Brown asked her aunt what she thought of the service.

“Wonderful, wonderful,” she cried while clutching a picture of McCue.


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Many of the servicemen in attendance called McCue an American hero. Some even admired his participation in combat when others had only served stateside. McCue had enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and fought in the five major battles, including a landing on Utah Beach on D-Day.

While many former military members were glad to still be alive, several expressed concerns that they too would be forgotten.

“Every time I go to one of these, I'm standing around holding my rifle and I do wonder, when my time comes, if there's gonna be anyone around to do it?” said Peter Tuttle, a Marine Corps veteran who served on the rifle guard for the ceremony.

Veteran David Webster of Salem, N.H., who came to pay tribute to James McCue on this day, found some time afterwards to visit his uncle’s grave, who was a Vietnam veteran. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Veteran David Webster of Salem, N.H., who came to pay tribute to James McCue on this day, found some time afterwards to visit his uncle’s grave, who was a Vietnam veteran. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

After the service, David Webster, an Army veteran from New Hampshire, lingered to pay his respects to his two uncles who were also veterans buried in the same cemetery.

Webster said his uncles were lucky to make it home; many of their comrades were less fortunate. However, he also said that many returning military members have little to fall back on when they return home, hoping that the funeral inspired people to support veterans.

“A lot of them come back and have nothing, whether it be finances, loss of family, or whatever it might be,” said Webster. “They deserve our support for putting their lives on the line, so it shouldn't be too much to offer them some support.

More photos from the funeral: 

"Taps" was played by Army bugler John Doherty of American Legion Post 8 in Andover, who did two tours of duty in Vietnam. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
"Taps" was played by Army bugler John Doherty of American Legion Post 8 in Andover, who did two tours of duty in Vietnam. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Disabled veteran Peter Rooney who served in the 1st infantry, "The Big Red One," salutes James McCue. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Disabled veteran Peter Rooney who served in the 1st infantry, "The Big Red One," salutes James McCue. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
After the ceremony, people lined up to leave flowers on the casket of James McCue. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
After the ceremony, people lined up to leave flowers on the casket of James McCue. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
People watch as cemetery workers slowly lower the casket of James McCue into his grave. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
People watch as cemetery workers slowly lower the casket of James McCue into his grave. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
People stand in line to pay their respects to James McCue. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
People stand in line to pay their respects to James McCue. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Sarah Pearson drops a small American Flag onto the casket of James McCue after it had been lowered into its final resting place. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Sarah Pearson drops a small American Flag onto the casket of James McCue after it had been lowered into its final resting place. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This segment aired on February 14, 2019.

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Jerome Campbell Twitter Reporter
Jerome Campbell is a WBUR Poverty and Justice Fellow whose reporting is supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

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