LAWRENCE (CBS) – He has no living family, but the turnout for the funeral of a World War II veteran from Lawrence was huge none and the less. And almost no one there had ever met him.

Word went out on social media that James McCue had passed with no relatives to mourn him. So hundreds of people answered the call today to pay their respects. At the snow covered Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence, several hundred strangers came together to honor James McCue.

McCue died at 97, and when the cemetery director learned he had no living relatives, social media did its work, and people from several states packed Bellevue’s veterans gravesite. “You have turned out to say it matters. It matters to celebrate the service of a World War II veteran. It matters to celebrate the service of somebody who served and sacrificed,” Mass. Veterans Affairs Secretary Francisco Urena told the crowd.

Jim McCue enlisted in the Army when he was 20. Private First Class McCue saw action in Europe, including being part of the Normandy invasion.

“We just wanted to pay our respects to somebody who fought so hard for our freedom,” said one woman who read about the funeral in a local paper.

It was a moving tribute as a long line of people gave thanks and respect to a man they never knew. “The people were amazing. I wish every veteran had a funeral like this. I wanted to come pay my respects to a great man,” says Pete, an Army veteran who lost his legs to a roadside bomb in Iraq.

The closest person to Mr. McCue at the cemetery Thursday was longtime friend, 91-year-old Doris Sevigny. Her niece spoke for her. “He would do anything for anybody and I know he was always smiling and he was always joking. They joked all the time together,” says Diane Brown.

They all had their reasons. “My great grandfather was a World War II veteran, my grandfather was a Korea vet. I’m a vet myself, Marine Corps, and it’s a way we can honor one another by doing this. So that’s why we’re all here,” added another man who heard about the funeral through social media.

PFC James McCue served during World War II in an anti-aircraft artillery unit.

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