Rainy days are the best funeral days – because the whole world is crying for your lost one. It was such a rainy, cold, dreary day, and it was my honor to transport the grieving family in one of our limos. This was a new experience for me. Not going to a funeral but assisting the grieving family on their silent trip to the gravesite. The casket was draped in a large American flag from start to finish. I couldn’t help but think about this veteran’s last car ride as we followed the hearse down one of the most beautiful roads in Arkansas
full of forest, lakes, and the sights of grazing sheep unbothered by the procession of cars passing them. The old sheepdogs guarding them only glancing at us. All seemed peaceful in the world, and the family didn’t make a sound the entire way.
When we pulled up to the National Cemetery, soldiers in full dress uniform saluted the veteran riding in the hearse, ending their salute as he passed.
This experience was for him and their way of honoring his service to this great country. There had to be twenty to thirty soldiers, all in dress uniform, participating in this honor of laying one of their own to rest.
I covered my heart because something told me I should, as the twenty-one gun salute was performed. I felt tears well up as the flag was folded and given to his mother. I wiped my eyes when one of the brigades offered a fist full of spent cartridges from the salute to the veteran’s sister.
I’ve been to military funerals before, but this one felt very different. The veteran was only three years older than me, his family young and loving. The military gave special attention to this one, and most likely, every veteran buried there.
I took the family back to their home city and helped the aging mother out of the car. She took my arm, squeezed it even, and looked into my eyes – thanking me for taking them to bury her son.
I’ve never felt a greater honor.