Ceremony held for WWII vet initially buried in cardboard box



SUMTER COUNTY, Fla. - A World War II veteran, who was buried in a cardboard box, was laid to rest again on Tuesday and this time with military honors.

A ceremony was held Tuesday morning at Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell for Lawrence Davis Jr.

Dozens of veterans and a handful of dignitaries attended the service, which was something that did not happen in 2005 when Davis was first buried there.

A few months back, workers straightening headstones found Davis's bones one foot underground, with nothing left of the cardboard box he'd been buried in.

There was widespread outrage over his burial.

"Every veteran deserves a dignified burial place.  And when you find out that somebody has been put in the ground in a cardboard box, a World War II veteran, that's just not right," said Sen. Bill Nelson.

Nelson co-sponsored a bill that orders the national cemeteries to provide caskets for veterans who had no family to arrange their funerals.

Funeral home operator Gene Whitfield donated a casket to bury Davis.  The military provided proper honors, and Vilma Baragona of The Villages accepted the flag on behalf of Davis's family. 

Nobody knows if Davis had any living family.

"As soon as I heard it on the news, I talked to my wife about it.  We felt like it was the right thing to do," said Whitfield.

Florida U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio have co-sponsored a bill that requires the Veterans Administration to provide a casket or urn for any veteran who doesn't have next of kin, or the means for a dignified burial.

Nelson expects it to pass later this month.