Des Moines Register
April 18, 2016
"He has no family — absolutely no family, so our staff and the chaplain from IVH will gather on a quiet hillside at IVH and put this man to rest," Mitchell wrote in a post that was shared more than 1,500 times.MARSHALLTOWN, Ia. — The mourners stood on a breezy hillside Monday to honor a Navy veteran whose face most had never seen. There wasn't even a photograph available of Charles Lanam to adorn the small program at his funeral.
But more than 100 people gathered to see him laid to rest, inspired by a funeral director's plea not to let a veteran's death go unnoticed.
Lanam, who never married and once was homeless while living in Des Moines, was 81 when he died April 10 at the Iowa Veterans Home, leaving behind no known family members.
"Charles was one of those quiet individuals who passed through life seemingly leaving not much of a mark," Craig Nelson, an Iowa Veterans Home chaplain, told the crowd assembled outside the home. "But as with all lives, he touched the people he came in contact with: His family while he was growing up, his shipmates while he served in the Navy, those he worked with, and our staff and the residents of the veterans home … your presence is a reminder of the fact that Chuck's life mattered."
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