Photo of veteran’s funeral viewing sparks outrage

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A Georgia funeral home is being vilified and threatened after a photo of a dead veteran lying on a gurney instead of in a casket at his funeral viewing went viral on social media.

Vietnam veteran George Luther Taylor, 71, died on Monday and was transported to Heritage Funeral Home in Fort Oglethorpe. The funeral home told the family that they would not put Taylor in a casket because of “problems with the life insurance payment.”

“At first we were okay with it, but like I told the guy, I said this was very disrespectful to my dad,” the veteran’s son, James Taylor told reporters. “They came to me and told me that unless nine thousand dollars was paid, they couldn’t put him into the ground at the military thing, he would have to sit in the freezer until we paid it or the insurance come through.”

“We were trying to honor the request and let them have some closure by viewing their loved one,” said funeral home spokesman David Cummings, asserting that they hadn’t done anything wrong regarding Taylor’s viewing and had spoken to the family about it first. “We serve this community. We love the community. We serve this community in everything we do.” Taylor was placed in a coffin in time for the service and the burial.

Sister-in-law, Beverly Roe has no problem with the funeral home’s treatment of Taylor’s viewing. “These guys haven’t done anything. They were so nice,” she said, adding that the family agreed that he would be laid out without a casket before the Friday afternoon service. “The three of us shook on it and then all of a sudden, somebody comes in and wants to stir up trouble,” said Roe.

A photo of Taylor was shared on Facebook by Ella Moss, who is no relation to the deceased’s family. In her post, she requested press coverage and urged her friends to share the photo, which has since been shared thousands of times by others who said they were incensed by the funeral home’s apparent cruelty and disrespect of a veteran.

The funeral home is receiving threats from the community as a result.

When a veteran who works at the Chattanooga National Cemetery saw the post, he expressed his concern to Director Charles Arnold, who contacted the funeral home and was told that Taylor would be placed in a proper casket for the burial.

“We wanted to make sure that this burial would meet our standards as we would do with every veteran,” said Arnold.

Strangers made a point of actually paying tribute to Taylor at the Chattanooga National Cemetery where he has since been buried.

Watch a tribute video to Taylor here.

H/T: ABC News Channel 9

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