CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) — The unclaimed remains of roughly 562 people were laid to rest on Wednesday in Chatham County.  

Some of the remains dated back to the 1940s. The names of the people are unknown but they now have a final resting place at Greenwich Cemetery. 

In a true show of compassion, no one in attendance knew any of the people who were laid to rest. This was an effort by the county that’s been in the works for some time.

“When I got elected the first thing, they told me was we got to work on the remains that they thought was about 200, but after I went into the office and counted, it was over 500,” said David Campbell, Chatham County coroner. 

In response to why this only recently became a priority, steps were taken to implement the initiative before COVID-19 but could not be completed due to the pandemic. 

City and county officials said it’s never too late to do the right thing.

“Even if it’s 80 years later,” Savannah Mayor Van Johnson said. “We don’t know all the names, but I do know that their final days were spent in our community. And therefore, they are ours.” 

County chairman Chester Ellis, along with others in attendance said the ceremony is significant and that everyone deserves an eternal resting place. 

“As a pastor of a congregation. It’s important to me because I would want my loved ones to have a final resting place,” Ellis said. 

Ellis also added that it’s important to honor the dead even if no one knew them. 

Ellis hopes this initiative has a lasting impact on how the unclaimed remains of people are treated in the future. 

“I’m hoping that we set a precedent here today of going into the future, we don’t allow accumulation,” said Ellis. “That has happened in the past.”