FERRIER FILES: Facebook post brings crowd to lonely veteran's funeral


The power of Facebook shows up big in Middle Tennessee, but only because the people who saw the post took action.

Vietnam Veteran Dan Hastings died estranged from his family; his dad, his seven children. No one was in contact with him for 26 years.

When he died, it looked like his funeral would be attended by his only two friends. That's when Beth Burch wrote about it on Facebook.

That post brought out honor guards, soldiers, full honors, a motorcycle escort, a 21-gun salute. It was a standing room only funeral at the Middle Tennessee Veterans Cemetery.

"It is an honor to be here,” said Tom Smith of Guardian ministries in Clarksville. "Nobody should ever go on their final deployment by themselves. We are here to say well done, carry on."

They even stood in the rain to hear a eulogy about a man they never knew. Hastings' two friends couldn't believe it.

“Having you all here today is one of the greatest honors," Burch said. "I never in a million years would have thought that little letter I wrote on social media would have resulted in all of you wonderful people being here."

All strangers except for Bill Hastings, a brother who hadn't seen his brother in 26 years. During the service, he clung to the flag and to his composure.

“Oh my God, I can't tell you," Hastings said. "I’m just overwhelmed. I didn't think this many people would care. This is the biggest honor I will ever experience. The greatest day of my life."

Bill Hastings was the only family member in attendance.

Dan Hastings always talked about being the only one who survived from his platoon and how hard it was to come home alone from deployment.

He may have come home alone, but he did not go home alone.

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