Family grateful for volunteer pallbearers for Marine veteran’s funeral

BAKER – The family of Christopher “CJ” Normand, a local Marine veteran, tells UWK they were overwhelmed by the community’s support in their time of need.

Normand, who enlisted in the Marines on May 31, 1960, and served until 1963, with his reserve obligation extending until May 30, 1966, passed away at 81. His family faced a challenge when traditional military pallbearer services were unavailable because Normand did not retire from the Marines.

“He didn’t retire from the Marines, so they don’t want to do the pallbearer services because apparently, that’s one of the rules that the Marines have,” explained his granddaughter Sarah Bresee. With few men in the family able to serve as pallbearers and her grandmother’s wish to have Marine pallbearers, Bresee appealed to the community and UWK.

The response was extraordinary.

“We had all the pallbearers we needed,” Bresee shared with UWK. “There were two Marines in their dress blues. In total, we had six pallbearers.”

The community’s response extended beyond just showing up.

“We were totally overwhelmed by how many comments and offers of help we received on our post. People were willing to assist and even tagged friends who could help,” Bresee said.

The visitation for Normand was held at 9 a.m. in Baker, La., on July 5 followed by a service at 11 a.m. and a graveside ceremony at Hillcrest Memorial Gardens. The presence of the two Marines in their dress blues added an honorable touch to the ceremonies, fulfilling the family’s wish to honor Normand’s service properly.

“I’m thankful for the response from everyone.”

Reflecting on the situation, Bresee added, “I can’t imagine the feeling my dad and brother would have had to experience if they had to be pallbearers instead of just grieving family members. The community’s support allowed them to grieve without that additional burden.”

Christopher “CJ” Normand’s family says they will always remember the kindness and support shown by the community, turning a challenging time into a memorable farewell for a proud Marine veteran.

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