The powerful image of a U.S. Army soldier standing in the pouring, freezing rain while paying his respects to a recently-deceased World War II nurse took the internet by storm over the past week.
According to American Military News, the photo, which was shared by Kim Wiley, clearly shows Army Spc. Melvin Taylor in his full dress uniform, standing at attention in front of the grave of 100-year-old Annie Ruth McVadon, who left this world earlier this month.
At the time of the photo, Wiley wasn’t aware of who the soldier was, but thanked him in a social media post for his unwavering respect, despite the nasty weather that day at Biloxi National Cemetery in Mississippi.
“Yesterday, I was with family at a military funeral in Biloxi. This soldier stood at attention in the pouring rain. It was cold and windy, he was drenched, but he proudly stood there while the rest of us were under the gazebo. He stood still and tall, until it was time to approach the casket, to meticulously fold the flag to present to the family. Then he stepped back to his position in the rain again, and proceeded to play the most beautiful, soulful rendition of Taps I had ever heard. Whoever you are, thank you sir, for reminding me of a wholly different meaning to military service,” Wiley wrote.
Spc. Taylor played TAPS at two military funerals on that day. He would later connect with Wiley, who took the photograph.
The soldier said that he was honored to have been given the chance to pay his respects to the fallen veteran and was proud to serve in America’s armed forces.
“I’ve always wanted to be a part of something so honorable,” Taylor said of his decision to join the Army. He also credited his father, who passed away when Taylor was young but who also served in the U.S. military.
“Most of my best decisions are because of me wanting to make him proud of me,” Taylor said.
“Now that I am a part of this amazing group of guys and girls, I couldn’t be more proud,” Taylor said, referencing the rifle team he’s apart of who play TAPS at military funerals around the country.
The picture of Wiley doing his part to honor McVadon at her grave received tens of thousands of shares across social media as of this writing.