Monday, May 25, 2009

Happy Memorial Day 2009

Last year on Memorial Day, I wrote about the history of the holiday and yesterday, a friend of mine also wrote an awesome post about a military hero whom he never even met. But this year, I'm thinking about funerals, military funerals to be exact.

Recently my paternal grandfather passed away. Unfortunately, I didn't know him as well as I would have liked to. Although he was a vet of the Korean conflict, he did not have a military funeral, but the flag was neatly folded there in his casket. As a sailor in Hawaii, he created maps for those on the ground out of the pictures the spy planes took.

I hate funerals. Even when you believe that the deceased has had a wonderfully full life and is going on to a better place, it is a sad event for all. The worst funerals though, for me at least, are military funerals. Even if I did not know the fallen, as soon as I hear the guns and Taps, I'm lost in a flood of tears.

Tears of sadness, and tears of pride. Pride in my country and my country's military men and women who have all volunteered and are out there standing guard to help protect me, my family, and my friends, often at great risk to themselves.

I'm afraid of many things, spiders being one of them, but my biggest fear is having to hear Taps at my husband's funeral while a sailor in a crisp dress uniform hands me a folded flag "on behalf of a grateful nation."

Unfortunately, due to my husband's chosen career path, wills and funeral arrangements are something that we have been forced to talk about at an age much younger and sooner than many. He wants a military funeral with a big party afterwards. A party, not a reception; complete with alchol and music, dancing and laughing. He wants those left behind to celebrate his life and remember the good, rather than mourn and be sad. I've often laughed (half heartedly) and told him that I'm not sure I can pull that one off. He usually just hugs me and tells me that "Teddy, Abdul, and the guys will take care of it, don't worry." Then he laughs and reminds me of the promise I made him make that he can't die until after I do anyway :)

I've gone off on a tangent again and let this post get away from me, so I will just simply end it with the lyrics of Taps, a heartfelt "THANK YOU" to all who have ever worn a military uniform and put their life in danger for the sake of me and others, and a wish for everyone to have a wonderful Memorial Day.

Fading light dims the sight
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright
From afar drawing nigh,
Falls the night.

Day is done, gone the sun
From the lakes, from the hills, from the sky
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.

Then goodnight, peaceful night;
Till the light of the dawn shineth bright.
God is near, do not fear,
Friend, goodnight.

(and all other branches)

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

You know... I don't think I've ever even thought about the fact that there's more than one verse to taps. Thanks for sharing the lyrics... and I agree with you that we have much to be thankful for in large part because of the sacrifices of others. We visited D.C. last year for Memorial Day weekend and it was an amazing experience.

As for funerals... you're not entirely alone in planning yours. :) I took a Family Life class in college that included a "death and dying" section where we had to plan our funerals - so mine is saved on the computer. One more random Elizabeth fact I bet you didn't know and could have lived without. ;)