Funeral directors and veterans from areas around Nassau and Suffolk counties gathered at Long Island National Cemetery late last month to discuss the process of bringing unclaimed remains of local veterans to rest.
The ceremony is set to take place at the Wyandanch Cemetery Saturday, May 19 -- Armed Forces Day.
"People don't always retrieve the ashes of those cremated, especially many years ago, so we save them and become the guardians of them," said Beth Dalton-Costello, owner of Levittown's Dalton Funeral Home.
"National cemeteries do not do funerals on weekends, so we had to send a letter to Washington in order to put this all together," Commander of Nassau County American Legion Andy Booth told Patch.
According to Costello, Booth, a Levittown resident, jumpstarted the mission last year after New York state passed a law allowing the cremated remains of unclaimed veterans to be interred in national cemeteries.
"We want to be sensitive to coordinating the different veteran organizations so everyone is represented properly," Costello said. "That's really important to us. We don't want to lose sight of what this is about -- showing respect to the veterans and what they've done for our country. This is really about bringing them home."
Costello commended Booth for his efforts in honoring these veterans and providing them with a proper goodbye.
"These cremated remains may have laid dormant if it wasn't for someone like Andy who came forward and made this project a reality," Costello said. "It's really fantastic and there's a lot of people excited about the whole thing."