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"He was a man of all seasons": WWII veteran laid to rest at Miramar National Cemetery

'Great-great-grandson to Francis Scott Key'
George Edward Key Sr.
Posted at 4:27 PM, Sep 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-24 20:27:34-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Friday at Miramar National Cemetery, a local hero was laid to rest.

Lieutenant George E. Key is a WWII veteran and the great-great-grandson of the man who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner.

"He was a man of all seasons, an officer and a gentleman. That was my dad," said Georgia Smith,

Lieutenant George E. Key was part of the Great Generation. He served in WWII, D-Day, and the Korean War. His legacy brought those who served alongside him, after him, and those wanting to pay their respects.

"I just know that he is looking down on all of us this today and saying this is, this is really really special, and I feel very honored," said Smith.

This patriot was given the highest of honors. The honor guard saluted him with the playing of the taps during the 13 folds of the American flag. There was also a WWII Bomber “Missing Man” formation flyover, which is typically reserved for well-known military service members and veterans. The highlight was the sounds of the song his great-great-grandfather wrote centuries ago.

"It doesn't matter when they served, how long they served, they are veterans," said Retired Colonel Nancy Sumner. "And they stood the call even back then. To be here amongst supports, patriotism ... this is true patriotism, you honor those fallen."

Lieutenant Key wore many hats. He was a soldier, educator, family man, the "Flag Man" of San Clemente, whose biggest passion was honoring the red, white and blue.

"It is really about your legacy and what you want to leave behind. It's not about what you get, it's about the difference you can make to people," said Sumner. "For him, his death, I hope is going to bring some new hope, new patriotism back, and a lot of love."

Lt. Key is an inspiration for generations, who loved his family, community, and serving the United States.

Lt. George Key's daughter said she hopes her father's legacy inspires younger generations to learn from those who served and hear their stories.

George's daughter also highlighted other achievements of her father. Lt. Key was known to train dozens of organizations on how to retire the American Flag honorably.

In 1998, Lt. Key organized local fundraising to help the Smithsonian Institution restore a giant, 15-star American Flag that had flown over Baltimore’s Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. This flag was the inspiration for “The Star-Spangled Banner."

For years, Lt. Key helped organize San Clemente’s annual Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day observances.