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Unclaimed veterans honored in moving tribute

"This is the least we can do to thank them for their service to our country," said Albert Cusimano, the Department of Louisiana VFW State Surgeon.

SLIDELL, La. — It was a solemn day in Slidell Thursday, as more than a dozen unclaimed veterans were honored.

In the blazing sun, sitting in silence, people came together to honor, respect and thank a select group of heroes.

"We never leave a veteran behind," said Belinda Hill, the Louisiana State Department Commander for Disabled American Veterans. "It's sad you know, a veteran leaves this world, and he doesn't have anybody, so we come out be that somebody for them."

"This is the least we can do to thank them for their service to our country," said Albert Cusimano, the Department of Louisiana VFW State Surgeon. "It's amazing we do this for them, because they do need to be remembered."

Twenty-six unclaimed veterans from different branches of the military were formally recognized Thursday at the Southeast Louisiana Veterans Cemetery.

"What they accomplished wasn't forgotten, wasn't unthought of and it was appreciated beyond what we could imagine," Cusimano said.

The ceremony was brief, but powerful.

"It's indescribable, brought tears to my eyes," Hill said.

A dozen participants were given an American flag to honor the lives lost, and the sacrifices made.

"We all did this together, we had that camaraderie, brotherhood, sisterhood, and whether we knew them or not, we felt connected to them through the uniforms we wear," Cusimano said.

And with one final salute, the strangers who came for the fallen, are left as a family.

"Because we all raised our right hand, we all went through some type of battle," Cusimano said.

And they say those who gave their life will never be forgotten.

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