People on social media are outraged after a funeral home put a Ringgold, Georgia, veteran’s body on display for visitation without a casket over what his son claims was a dispute over money.
According to WTVC in Chattanooga, Tennessee, photos of the body of 71-year-old George Taylor, a Vietnam veteran, draped in a flag while lying on a gurney during his visitation are circulating on social media as controversy swirls over Heritage Funeral Home’s handling of the situation.
James Taylor, the veteran's son, told WTVC that there was an issue with a life insurance payment.
"At first, we were OK with it, but like I told the guy, I said this was very disrespectful to my dad," James Taylor told WTVC.
He added: "They came to me and told me that unless $9,000 was paid, they couldn't put him into the ground; he would have to sit in the freezer until we paid it or (until) the insurance came through."
As a result, Facebook user Ella Moss and others spoke out on social media.
"This is how his friends (and) family had to see him," Moss wrote under a photo of Taylor's body, which we are not showing or linking to here because of its graphic nature. "I am in total disbelief."
Moss' post has been shared more than 3,000 times.
But the funeral home and another relative are telling a different story.
“We were trying to honor the request and let them have some closure by viewing their loved one,” David Cummings of the funeral home told WTVC. “We serve this community. We love the community."
Beverly Roe, who said she was the sister-in-law of the deceased veteran, told WTVC that the family “shook on” the arrangement.
“His son was (OK with it), too. We shook on it. The three of us shook on it, and then all of a sudden, somebody comes in and wants to stir up trouble,” she said. “These guys (at the funeral home) haven’t done anything. They were so nice.”
Whatever the case, the director of the Chattanooga National Cemetery saw the Facebook posts and called Heritage Funeral Home to guarantee that Taylor would be properly buried in a casket, WTVC reported.
Director Charles Arnold told WTVC that he contacted the funeral home and was told 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,” Arnold told WTVC.
When Taylor’s body was transferred to a funeral home vehicle for a procession, a woman identified as Tiffany Lambert reportedly stood outside with her hand over her heart as she played “God Bless the USA.”
She commented on WTVC’s Facebook page by saying it was the right thing to do.
“I had to. Someone has to show this man the respect he deserves I only played the song as they loaded this American Soldier up – Thank you sir for your service and God Bless The U.S.A.!” she wrote.