This week I experienced a moment that I will never forget. It was a moment filled with tears of sadness, and tears of joy. But, more importantly it was a moment filled a level of honor and pride that I’ve never felt before.
On Wednesday (8.07.13) I attended my Paw-Paw’s funeral (my Dad’s Dad). He battled Parkinson’s Disease for over 12 years, and passed away at the age of 86. He has always been a fighter, and without a doubt he fought this disease much longer than anyone had expected.
When I walked into the room where he laid, his casket was covered with the stars and stripes of the American Flag. This reminded me that he was a military veteran; he served the Infantry in his early 20′s. Now almost 60 years removed from his service in the military, the flag lay draped over his casket in honor of his service to our country.
During the memorial service my Dad presented the eulogy in a way that had everyone in the room celebrating my Paw-Paw’s life through laughter and joy. I must say that a huge swell of pride rose up as I watched my Dad recall memories of his Dad and celebrate the legacy that our Paw-Paw has left. The service was beautiful, elegant, and perfect in every way, but I was not ready for what I was about to experience.
As we approached the grave site I saw two military service members waiting the arrival of the casket.
Once the casket was placed above the grave, the Pastor began conducting the grave side portion of the service. After some eloquent words spoken by the Pastor, he closed in prayer. Still… I was not prepared for what was about to happen.
After about what seemed like an eternity of silence, one military service member played “Taps” on the trumpet. Then, both military guys marched towards the casket.
Once they arrived at the casket, they began to fold the flag; treating it with the upmost pride and care. As we watched there was an indescribable silence and peace. Still… not ready for what was about to happen.
The flag was folded with care into the perfect triangle. Carrying the freshly folded flag; the military member marched (in only the way military guys can march) slowly towards my Paw-Paw’s wife. Then, he knelt down on one knee…
At this moment my eyes filled with tears, and it took all I had to choke back the tears. The military officer spoke in a small voice to my Paw-Paw’s widow. The words where hard to hear, but what I did hear blew me away…
“On behalf of the President of the United States of America, please accept this flag in appreciation for your loved one’s service to our country…”
I am pretty sure there we more words spoken, but at that point I was straining just to hold back the tears. The officer looked into her eyes and you could tell this was a moment that mattered to both her and the military officer.
That moment was powerful, indescribable, humbling and something I will never forget!
I am so proud and honored to call the United States my country.
We might not get it right all the time, but the honor bestowed upon my Paw-Paw was perfect.
There are so many lessons learned from this; but for now I will let the story marinate on my heart and let God teach me through this experience.