We should always recognize and respect the service of those who have served and continue to serve in the military. Most soldiers go into a warzone not knowing if they’ll make it back. In some cases, those who return from war are left physically and emotionally scarred. That’s something Private First Class Stanley C. Stoltz understood all too well. He tried living a peaceful, quiet life when he got home. Stoltz was a very private man who had no children. So, when he passed away, it seemed like no one would come to his funeral. But an ad in the obituaries changed all that.
The obituary ad invited everyone to attend the funeral of Private First Class Stanley C. Stoltz. Stoltz was a Vietnam veteran who had spent most of his life in solitude on the outskirts of Omaha, Nebraska. He had been married twice before, but one wife passed away and the other one divorced him.
People shared the funeral announcement on social media without realizing the impact it would have. Netizens realized they couldn’t allow this veteran to be laid to rest without anyone bidding him farewell. So, thanks to the tweeted obituary ad, people flocked over to Omaha. The turnout was so massive that it practically reached the interstate.
Chaplain Roy Edwards had never seen a crowd of mourners this big for any funeral he had attended. At most, a dearly departed ends up getting anywhere from 6 to 15 cars. But what Edwards witnessed was closer to 400 hundred cars. It was truly a touching scene—one that Stoltz would have been humbled by.
According to Good Shepherd Funeral Home director Mike Hoy, some of Stoltz family came forward. The surviving family members were undoubtedly grateful for the outpouring of love and support. But Hoy himself admitted that he was a bit awestruck and humbled by the response to the ad he had placed in the newspaper.
It was a cold winter day, but strangers from far and wide bundled up and came to pay their respects. Among the crowd was Stoltz’s brother, Keith, and his hospice workers, who had assisted him until his very last moments on Earth. But all anyone had to do was look at the cars lined up on the road to know that Private Stoltz had many mourners eager to say goodbye.
For several years, Stoltz had fought bravely in the name of freedom, and now he was being laid to rest. Mourners felt a heavy weight in their hearts as they said goodbye. Many of them even left flowers and other items at Stoltz’s grave as a token of their appreciation. But civilians weren’t the only ones who had come to the funeral.
Fellow veterans had arrived to join the mourners, and they understood what Stoltz had gone through. The veterans dressed up in their old military uniforms, and they, along with other civilians shed tears for Stoltz, whom many had never met. But clearly, everyone respected what the vet had gone through in Vietnam.
Although Stoltz had kept to himself, he managed to accrue quite a legion of mourners in the end. But if there’s one lesson we can take from this it’s that we should reach out to veterans while they are alive, and thank them for their service. Ask them if they need anything. Don’t let the sacrifices they’ve made fade away. Become their friends, help them, and most importantly, remember them.