Jewish World Review May 9, 2011 / 5 Iyar, 5771
Veteran died alone: Did you know him?
By Mitch Albom
Now he is dying again.
The second death is the death of being forgotten. And Hannah, who served his country for years, has been forgotten.
His body lies alone in a cooled room in the Gates of
Norris is keeping Hannah unburied, in a donated coffin, until someone from his family, some brother, sister, child, uncle, cousin -- even a friend -- comes forward to say they knew him.
For two weeks, no one has, despite Hannah's years of service in the
Meanwhile, Hannah's corpse remains unvisited. Surely there is someone reading this who knew him? A man can't simply die in the state where he was raised, in the city where he lived and have no one to stand by his coffin, can he?
Sadly, he can. In the world of homelessness, one can die as quietly as a falling leaf. And if no one steps forward, the dilemma of what to do with the body becomes a burden for anyone who gets involved.
Norris is faced with that burden now. He kindly took possession after a homeless shelter called for help. But he can't afford the burial costs, and he can't cremate for fear of relatives who may come forward at a later date.
Please, if you knew
Come forward now.
SUCH A HARD-LUCK LIFE STORY
Hannah, as near as I can piece together, grew up somewhere in
"He just dropped out of sight," said
He thinks. Someone else thinks. There are snippets of
He was Caucasian, thin, 5-feet-5 or so. He smoked and had lung cancer, which he accepted.
"He said he came here to die,"
It was too late.
A FINAL RESTING PLACE NEEDED
Hannah, after heavy coughing and complaining of pain, was taken to a nursing home a few weeks back, then to
There was no one to contact. No names or addresses. And no one to pay for a grave. Norris took pity. Nearly 20 years ago, his brother was killed, and without funds to bury him, he went to work at a funeral parlor just to settle the bill.
He has been in the business ever since. "This is the first time in all my years I've dealt with this," he said of Hannah's situation. "We cleaned him up. Embalmed him. Gave him a nice brown suit and a shirt and tie. I've donated a metal coffin. But I'm a small operation. I don't have the
And so the body of
A poem by
They count as quite forgot;
They are as men who have existed not;
Theirs is a loss past loss of fitful breath;
It is the second death.
The man deserves better. If you knew him, please contact the funeral home at 313-894-2427.
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