FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) - Veterans from across Georgia gathered Saturday to celebrate the life of a World War II veteran whose death, his daughter had feared, would go unnoticed.
More than 100 people gathered at the Masonic Lodge in Flowery Branch to honor Pfc. Cornelius Cornelssen VIII, a man who many in attendance had never met, The Gainesville Times reported. The 93-year-old died earlier this month and his daughter Candice Easton had been worried no one would show up to his "celebration of life," especially since her father was from New York and had moved to Georgia later in his life.
"I have received dozens, now hundreds, of comforting messages," Easton said, smiling, as she talked about how many people had heard her story after she spoke to the newspaper on Christmas Eve.
Veteran Don Hemphill said he drove almost three hours from Warner Robins to attend the gathering. He served in the Air Force from 1983 to 2011 and said it is important to recognize World War II veterans like Cornelssen.
"I've seen times when her fears were realized," Hemphill said of Easton's worry that no one would be there to honor her father. "We're losing so many World War II-era veterans and so many people don't understand the sacrifice and the things that they did. Why we are the way we are in the world today is because of those folks."
Cornelssen fought in the Battle of the Bulge and earned a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, according to his obituary .