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Social media outcry over Georgia veteran's visitation with no coffin

Photo via John Taylor

A dispute over a Ringgold veteran's funeral has gotten the attention of thousands on social media.

Family members of George Taylor shared pictures of the veteran's body displayed on a gurney with a flag draped on top.

There was no coffin for the visitation that happened at Heritage Funeral Home on Battlefield Parkway.

As of 1 p.m. on Friday, Ella Moss' post about this on Facebook has been shared more than 1800 times.

Taylor's family says Heritage Funeral Home in Fort Oglethorpe refused to put Taylor in a casket because of problems with the life insurance payment.

"At first we were okay with it but like I told the guy, I said this was very disrespectful to my dad," said Taylor.

Watch a tribute video to Taylor here.

Taylor's son, James Taylor, says they were given little to no notice prior to the visitation of the problem. He says he and another family member agreed but felt it was a disgrace to his father.

He also claims the funeral home refused to bury his father until they received payment.

"They came to me and told me that unless that nine thousand dollars was paid, they couldn't put him into the ground, he would have to sit in the freezer until we paid it or (until) the insurance came through," said Taylor.

NewsChannel 9 spoke to the funeral home representatives who say they did what the family asked.

"We were trying to honor the request and let them have some closure by viewing their loved one," David Cummings with the funeral home said.

They also say they did nothing wrong in the matter and their main priority is serving their community.

"We serve this community. We love the community. we serve this community in everything we do," said Cummings.

They also said since the photo was shared on social media, they've been receiving threats from the community.

While outside Friday, NewsChannel 9 met a woman who claimed to be the veteran's sister-in-law. She told us she disputes Taylor's claims.

When we asked her if she was was okay with how Taylor looked during his visitation, she replied, "His son was too. We shook on it. The three of us shook on it and then all of a sudden, somebody comes in and wants to stir up trouble," said Beverly Roe.

She also said she's on the side with funeral home.

"These guys haven't done anything. They were so nice," said Roe.

The funeral home and the family came to an agreement before Friday afternoon's service. Taylor was placed in a coffin in time for the service and the burial.

The Chattanooga National Cemetery says they reached out to the funeral home this morning after a worker at the cemetery, also a veteran, saw the post and expressed concern. Director Charles Arnold says he contacted the funeral home and was told Taylor would be placed in a proper casket for the burial.

"We wanted to make sure that this burial would meet our standards as we would do with every veteran," said Arnold.

As word got out and Taylor's funeral procession to the Chattanooga National Cemetery got underway, some people who got word of the story on social media made a point to pay him tribute.

The woman in the picture, Tiffany Lambert, had more to say on our Facebook page:

She says, "I had to. Someone has to show this man the respect he deserves I only played the song as they loaded this American Soldier up - Thank you sir for your service and God Bless The USA!"

NewsChannel9 is working to confirm more details. Depend on us for the latest on this developing story.

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