More than 100 gather to celebrate WWII veteran's life

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Our community answered the call to honor the life of a World War II veteran on Saturday.

Private First Class Cornelius Cornelssen the 8th died Dec. 17.

His daughter, Candice Easton, asked Georgia veterans to attend a celebration of life Saturday afternoon, in particular because Cornelssen has little family.

But to Easton's surprise, not only did the veterans show, so did others – more than 100 people who traveled from across the state.

Easton says although at one point she felt alone, the community coming together for this event has brought her comfort since the passing of her father.

Veteran Don Hemphill said he drove almost three hours from Warner Robins to attend the gathering. He served in the Air Force from 1983 to 2011 and said it is important to recognize World War II veterans like Cornelssen.

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"I've seen times when her fears were realized," Hemphill said of Easton's worry that no one would be there to honor her father. "We're losing so many World War II-era veterans and so many people don't understand the sacrifice and the things that they did. Why we are the way we are in the world today is because of those folks."

Cornelssen fought in the Battle of the Bulge and earned a Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, according to his obituary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.