As I'm sure many of you know, who follow my blog, that I, at every available chance , participate in the Final Honors, or Military Funerals for the Hero's who have served this beautiful Country of ours, and for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice, and died on the battlefields of late, defending the freedom that we have come to take for granted. Whatever your politics, or your religion matters not to me, for a soldier only knows to follow the orders of their superior Officer, there is no democrat or republican, no ambiguity. That's how it works, that's why it works !!!
Today however, my friends, I experienced an epiphany. I've literally done hundreds of these funerals over the years, and today, as I laid another Veteran to rest, I couldn't help but ask myself, "For whom do these people cry/" I was struck by the fact that the families and friends that come these somber affairs, are jovial and talkative at the onset of the service, but only weep for their loved one once our service commences. Are they weeping for the Hero who has fallen, or are their tears merely for the pomp and circumstance that we, (as a memorial unit) perform for every Veteran who has served,
Let me share this with you; I as Chaplain, to start the Military part of the service, stand before the family and friends and say, "Let us pray....... Oh God, Father of all, we here extend these final earthly tributes to our beloved Comrade. Accept our prayers on behalf of the soul of thy servant departed. Welcome him to thy house to rest in peace. Look with mercy upon the loved ones bereaved by his passing. Comfort and console them through thine own tenderness. These things we ask humbly in thy name.......Amen."
Then after a few words by the Commander of our Post, again I say, " Let us pray, Almighty and Merciful God ! Father of all !! Amidst these monuments of the dead.... we see thy hand. In the depth of our sorrow, we realize the truth of these inspired words: I am the resurrection and the life, and that he who believeth in me, though he were dead.....Yet shall he live !!! As comrade after Comrade departs, we march on the ranks grown thinner. Help us to be faithful unto thee, and to one another. We beseech thee, look with mercy upon all of us assembled here, and with thine own tenderness, comfort and console those bereaved by the hand of death. Give them the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness..... Heavenly Father....Bless our Country with Freedom and Righteousness, and through thy sovereign and holy spirit's favor. may we all meet at last before thy throne of grace in Heaven, and to thy great name will be praise, for ever and ever.... Amen/
Then, these words....... "Officer of the Day....... Prepare the Squad for the final salute to our fallen Comrade." The squad the lines up, either at the grave side or outside the Chapel, and the volleys are fired and taps are blown. Then, as the flag is being folded, I say, " This banner of love and devotion, now being folded, is a living memorial of the courageous thoughts of our fallen Comrade.... The one you came to honor today. The blue field represents the sky that overlooks our land, and denotes the watchfulness of God the Eternal. The red stripes tell us of the Blood, Sweat, and Tears that have been offered by our Comrades' devotion to the responsible freedom of our Country. The white stripes boldly proclaim the peace that he fought for and helped to bring to this and future generations. This is His Flag...... This is our Spiritual Heritage...... Receive it with the tears of our minds and the faith of our Hearts..... Amen !!!
Three spent shells are then placed inside the flag, One for Duty, One for Honor, and One for the Country that was so loved and proudly served. After the Salutes, these word are offered to the recipient of the flag, "On behalf of the President of the United States, and a truly, grateful Nation, It is my honor, to present to you, this flag, of our Nation, that your loved one so proudly fought for.... and served. May God bless him... and may God Bless you !!!
The whole ordeal makes me cry every time I do it, but like I said before, for whom do the tears fall.... For the Veteran, or for the Service...... You tell me !!!
David W. Emerick