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.”
“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.”