Last night at 11:00pm our funeral home staff met the plane of a fallen soldier.
From “Living and Dying” the book
Military funerals are a remarkable experience to witness. If any organization truly understands the privilege of attending to a ceremony celebrating life, it’s the military. I don’t care what branch or what age, the military does it right. There is an understanding of life and death on a very fundamental and real level in the military. They understand the sanctity of life, they understand the meaning of ceremony, and they understand reverence to death. If you have ever had the opportunity to witness a full military funeral, you know what I mean.
We’ve had the unfortunate task of attending to many military funerals at our firm. My most recent experience was memorable in that the local airport manager and security team had me over in advance to review the procedures in receiving the remains from overseas. We arrived at the designated time with our hearse and staff, and were escorted onto the airfield. When the plane arrived, the family was on the tarmac with our staff, the airport dignitaries, security team, airport fire department, and the local sheriff’s department.
As the plane came to a stop at the gate and shut down its engine, the military escort was asked to deplane and the passengers asked to wait to deplane until after the deceased veteran was transferred from the cargo hold. As I sit here today I can remember the tears welling in my eyes as I experienced the gratitude of a nation receiving a fallen soldier home. There was not a dry eye in the airport who witnessed this, and I can assure you it will not be forgotten by anyone there
The services for this Army officer took place over three days. A platoon of officers and enlisted men in attendance had specific instructions for attending to the family, our staff and the deceased veteran who had died in battle. I was so impressed with their attention to detail and their willingness to serve this honor of burial, that I spent extra time training and practicing with them on the specific details so I didn’t feel the need to have my trained staff involved. It was with gratitude, honor, and duty that these fine men and women performed their roles. If we could learn anything from the military, it’s the way they deal with their dead: with respect, gratitude, honor, and duty.
“Blessings on your journey”