Written by Sgt. Mac
My dad died of cancer in 2005. The memorial service was a mix of sadness and happiness. The sad part, of course was the loss of our dear father, mom’s husband of 60 years and grandfather to our kids and great-grandfather to a bunch of very young grandchildren. The last child was born only a few weeks before dad’s death and we put the babe in his arms, as pop lay dying in mom’s home, surrounded by family.
I had made a short memorial video of dad’s life for the service. It was received very well with those in attendance, and the lighter moments received great laughter, remembering all the good times with him.
After the service, we followed dad’s flagged draped casket to his final resting place. It was located near a large shaded tree, as a Scottish Bagpiper led the way, playing Amazing Grace. The graveside service was repleat with Military Honors, the playing of taps and the folding of the American Flag that had draped his coffin.
A young airman handed mom the flag. She then turned to me with tears and her eyes and said that the flag was mine to have. Of course it was a special moment.
Afterword’s, I announced that we would like to greet every person at the graveside, which we did. After that, the family and the crowd of friends, broke up to go to a reception in at a nearby building. I spent a lone moment at dad’s casket and was the last to leave.
As I walked along a large expanse of green lawn towards the reception area, I spotted the same two airman who were in dad’s Honor Guard, standing nearby. One of them raised the trumpet to his lips and began playing taps, while the other stood next to him saluting.
Gazing ahead of them, I spotted another temporary tent covering a gravesite with only three people in attendance. Obviously the person they were honoring, was another veteran.
I managed to come to attention and present a smart salute, until taps was over. I then walked over to the two young men and asked about the man, they had just honored.
“We don’t know his name,” Said one, “but he was in his nineties.” After a bit more prodding, I was able to find out that the man’s wife had died long ago, that they had no children and that he had outlived all his friends.
The three persons present at his gravesite, were a preacher, and two members of the cemetery staff.
After taps, the two airman walked over to the casket, folded the flag and handed it to one of the officials. They then headed back towards the Chapel offices and I to the reception for my dad.
The interesting thing was that both men were Veteran’s. One I knew a lot about, the other nothing-except he was a veteran. Though one funeral, was bigger than the other, both men received the same military honors for their service, the same American Flag draped coffin, and a host of respectful salutes, including one from a stranger, who had just buried his dad.