Twitter Brings Strangers to Honor a War Hero

People who underestimate the power of social media have obviously not heard about Harold Jellicoe Percival, who died at the ripe old age of 99 and had no living family or friends to survive him. Percival was a World War II veteran who was a part of the Royal Air Force and took part in the famous Dambusters raid and was seemingly the last link to that event. His funeral service would have been a simple affair with no one to mourn him, and nobody would have known had it not been for his obituary appearing in the local newspaper, asking anyone who might have known him to come forward.

This article was then picked up by social media and shared across Twitter and Facebook, and by the time of his funeral, more than 300 people turned out to mourn him, including many currently serving soldiers on leave from Afghanistan. World War Two began in 1939 and ended in 1945, nearly 70 years ago. That means there are not too many veterans of that war left, and their service to their country needs to never be forgotten.The mourners who turned out for Harold Percival were there to remember a man who had served his country in an awful world war, but if it weren’t for the newspaper and the Internet, he may well have been buried with no military honors, no pomp and circumstance, just a quiet, simple ceremony in the town of Lytham St. Annes, Lancashire, in the north of England.The funeral began at 11 a.m. on Armistice Day, which is Britain’s Veterans Day, and the reverend performing the service commented that the funeral turnout was “a testament to the power of the written word.” In an age where people would rather look at their smartphones than engage in conversation, its refreshing to see people congregate to remember the life of a man who fought for all our civil rights and freedom.

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