Bikers arrive to pick up casket for a veteran’s funeral

It goes without saying that our veterans deserve nothing but respect and honor.

It’s a sad reality that so many veterans are forgotten as they age, left alone after serving their country valiantly and often sacrificing a great deal in the process.

Then there are those who have surviving relatives but refuse to claim them.

But if anyone deserves a proper send-off, it’s these brave men and women who risked their lives to serve our country.

That’s why stories like this one don’t just make me smile; they also serve as a model for others to emulate.

The Florida National Cemetery holds a service for indigent and unclaimed veterans once a quarter, but cemetery officials say they welcome individual services as well.

In the 1950s, Robert Krause was a Marine. He had no family and no one to claim him when he died.

”I’ve heard it said that a veteran dies twice: once on the battlefield and the second time when people stop saying his name,” said Nick Morales, a Marine Corps and U.S. Army veteran.

”If there’s anything we can do to prevent the latter, so be it.”

On the day of Robert’s funeral, Nick and his fellow volunteer bikers arrived to transport his casket from the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital to the Florida National Cemetery.

The bikers described their participation as an honor because no veteran should be buried alone.

“Our motto is ‘vets helping vets,'” said Nick Morales.

“We’re not going to let any vet go to their final resting place by themselves.

We all have a common bond of service – our service, what we’ve done for our country. And regardless of what we’ve done after our service, we still have that bond.”

Robert was given the farewell he deserved, complete with a motorcycle escort. They had come to proudly proclaim his name.

Taps marked the end of his service.

“It’s not just Taps for Mr. Krause, it’s Taps for all of us who are fallen. It’s embedded in us,” Morales added.