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Boy Stands In The Rain With Hand Over Heart To Salute World War II Veteran’s Funeral Procession, Bringing A Tear To Widow’s Eye

September 02, 2016

A funeral procession that was held for World War II veteran pilot and community philanthropist Jeremiah Joseph O’Keefe on Saturday had many touching and special moments, but nothing was more special when a boy, who never met Mr. O’Keefe, decided to salute the veteran by standing out in the rain for half an hour with his hand over his heart.

O’Keefe was a Marine Corps pilot during World War II who shot down several Japanese aircraft. He was a part of a legendary squadron known as the “Death Rattlers.”


The O’Keefe family has been in the funeral-home business for 151 years but had never seen such a spontaneous act of honor by a little boy.

The boy, Kaiden Wade, 9, was seen by the family during the funeral procession after they rounded Porter Avenue, coming from Biloxi in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Wade held his position for the complete half hour that it took for the procession to pass by, bringing tears to Jeremiah Joseph O’Keefe’s widow, Martha O’Keefe.

“It was very touching to see him there,” Martha O’Keefe said to the Herald. “It was so touching to see that young man show such respect for Jerry.”

A picture of Kaiden was taken and posted onto Facebook where it received hundreds of shares and eventually Kaiden was identified.
Before that, Cecilia O’Keefe Neustrom, one of Jerry O’Keefe’s daughters, drove through the neighborhood searching for the boy.
“This young fellow was the symbolism for the youth and vitality that was so present in my Dad,” she told the Herald. “You can’t put your finger on what it meant. He was all by himself and he was barefoot, just standing alone in the rain.”
According to Kaiden’s father, Kevin Wade, he and Kaiden were there visiting Kevin’s grandmother who had recently broke her pelvis. She told him that a funeral procession would be coming by soon with a horse drawn hearse.
The two of them walked to the corner of the road waiting for the funeral procession to pass by. When he was told to come back inside because of the rain, Kaiden asked is father if he could stay, to which his father agreed.

“He stands not just through the whole procession, but the last police car that came through — standing still with his hand over his heart,” Kevin Wade said. “It was amazing to me.”

This is nothing new for Kaiden according to his mother, Amy Wade. He has always shown respect towards others, such as when he stood by his great grandfathers to greet every mourner. He has also stayed several nights with his great grandmother to make sure she doesn’t fall again.