The death and burial of Paul Garner created memories of a man most of us never knew.
Friends from Baker High School buried their former classmate 10 days after another homeless man discovered his body on a vacant lot downtown. Writing about people transforming a pauper's burial into a sacred celebration touched me and apparently it touched others. The experience has made me realize how many times I have looked the other way.
Here's a sample of your responses:
" Now that you folks know about the homeless here in our town what happens now? Does everyone go back to what they were doing and being proud because you help bury a friend you forgot or didn't know he was homeless forgetting about the homeless that's still there?" -- Brenda Knox
"Thank you for helping to put a face on the homeless in our area. Paul was a sweet, kind funny boy who made friends wherever he went and never met a stranger." -- Robin Lee Crawford
"This is a very sad story, but it shows the caring of the Baker High School Family." -- Emilia Chirrum
"You have written a beautiful story, returned the dignity that so many homeless citizens have lost and kept this story alive. There are many stories out there among the homeless that haven't been told." -- Rhonda Renee
"This is the most tragic happening for Columbus; it should not have happened; we are all to blame. We should never turn our hearts away from one because of alcoholism; it is a curable disease. Find a shelter, facility or place that could use your help; volunteer either your services, food or make a small donation. It will always be greatly appreciated." -- Carolyn Sanders Qualls
"I'm sure you've heard this already from the people you interviewed, but what was mostly shocking was that Paul really was smarter than the average bear -- and boy, was he funny. A friend of mine always compared him to Jerry Reed (from the Burt Reynolds movies), in that he was extremely quick-witted and always a good-vibe guy. He was entertaining as hell and people loved to be around him." -- Jim Tremayne
"This is in reference to your article describing Paul Garner's friends under the tent as scruffy street people. We were all gathered as friends. Dogs are scruffy. We all wore our nice clothes to the funeral. I have a dictionary you may borrow. It is full of words that can describe good-hearted people his true friends showed who they were. They brought flowers they paid for out of their own pockets. Said speeches that weren't rehearsed. And yes they know how to read. Charlie Helton was not pleased with the article. Oh yea, you're no Brad Pitt yourself."
Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.