Earlier this week, a man Stephen C. Reiman died in a Wyoming hospital. He had no visitors and no one to claim his body. His nursing staff knew little about him, other than he was a Vietnam veteran and liked Bruce Springsteen. Mr. Reiman had come to Wyoming via California, and had only been in our state for a few weeks. No family could be found at first. The Natrona County coroner arranged to have Stephen Carl Reiman buried with full military honors at the Oregon Trail National Veteran’s Cemetery, but feared no one would attend. So the call went out via Wyoming news outlets for folks to attend this hero’s funeral and to give an unknown veteran one last great salute.
Wyoming answered that call, as did folks from neighboring states. More than 2,000 people showed up to bury the sailor. Fellow veterans, active-duty personnel, doctors, nurses, ranchers, business owners, law enforcement officers and every day citizens gathered in Casper, Wyoming, to honor a man they never met. It was standing room only in the chapel, and folks lined the streets for the funeral procession. They braved nasty roads and stood in the cold and the snow because they felt it was the right thing to do.
Each time I read an article or see photos from this beautiful demonstration of humanity, I am brought to tears.
My state, and many of her citizens, have been labeled as deplorable during the election season. But on this day, Wyoming proved it is anything but. Our citizens showed their kindness, gratitude and compassion to a man they’ve never met. On “Giving Tuesday,” the people of Wyoming gave thanks for the life of a stranger that served our country. Mr. Reiman might have died with only his nurses at his side. But he was buried as one of Wyoming’s own.
God bless you, Sailor Reiman. May you finally find your peace.