After 79 years since his death in World War II, Tuesday marked a special day for a hero who received a warm welcome. The honor was given to him posthumously and was a testament to his bravery and service to his country. It was a touching moment that reminded everyone of the sacrifices made by the brave men and women who have served their country with honor and dignity. This tribute is a reminder that their sacrifices will never be forgotten and will always be remembered with gratitude.
A brave American who sacrificed his life fighting for freedom in World War II is being honored with active duty recognition, even after eight decades have passed. This young man had enlisted in New York City and was reported missing on December 16, 1944, just on the Eve of the Battle of Bulge, while battling the Nazis. His dedication to serving his country and fighting for what he believed in will never be forgotten.
For many years, the remains of the soldier had been buried in a grave in Belgium designated for unknown soldiers. Despite this, the military continued to make efforts to identify him and never gave up on their mission.
After unearthing the remains, Army scientists employed DNA and dental records to confirm the identity of the deceased soldier. The soldier was identified as U.S. Army Sgt. Bernard J. Sweeney Jr., who hailed from Waterbury, Connecticut and was only 22 years old.
Ken Rothwell, the funeral director at Alexander-Rothwell Funeral Home, expressed his utmost pride in being able to perform their most significant service in 30 years of funeral service. Bringing home a soldier after 78 and a half years is an achievement that they hold in high regard. “This is our top honor,” Rothwell exclaimed, acknowledging the monumental task that they have performed. The dedication and commitment to providing a dignified funeral service for their fallen hero is something that they take great pride in.
Rothwell was tasked with providing Sweeney a dignified burial at Calverton National Cemetery located on Long Island.
According to Eileen Shanahan from the Warrior Ranch Foundation, it’s common to associate the burial of a hero from World War II with an elderly individual. However, in this case, a 22-year-old man is being laid to rest.
Years after the incident, a touching sight of a two-mile funeral procession, featuring a riderless horse to commemorate a fallen hero, still brings tears to the eyes of hundreds who pay their respects while carrying flags.
Jeriann Bodensky, a resident of Calverton, expressed the significance of honoring American soldiers, considering her father’s status as a World War II veteran.
The younger generation showed up to honor the remarkable generation that came before them.
Zayne Maddock, an Eagle Scout hailing from Southampton, emphasized the significance of honoring those who fought for our nation. He stated that our country owes its existence to the brave soldiers who laid down their lives to safeguard it. Maddock’s statement highlights the importance of acknowledging the sacrifices made by our soldiers and veterans in preserving our freedom and way of life.
As there were no surviving members of Sweeney’s immediate family, the residents of Calverton came out in droves to pay their respects. The streets were lined with mourners who came together to honor the memory of their beloved community member.
According to Grace Swift, a resident, “we are all his family now.”
The moment was truly profound, showing that it’s never too late to express gratitude for our nation’s heroes.
According to Vietnam veteran Robert Robesch, the significance of it cannot be overstated. “It’s great. It’s important for all of us,” he emphasized.
Martin Steiger, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, believes that it’s never too late to make a difference. As he says, “Never leave a man behind.”
Sweeney was given a final resting place of utmost respect, right beside the legendary Navy Seal hero, Michael Murphy.
All expenses related to the burial and the horses involved in the procession were generously donated.
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