Thank you, Veterans, for the final salute
In planning his funeral, we were asked if we wanted military honors. Knowing how Dad valued his Marine Corps service, we said, yes.
At the internment, 9 senior veterans from the Badger Detachment of the Marine Corps League and 3 young Marines performed the honors.
First there was the 3-volley salute. Eight of the 9 Marine Vets raised their rifles and fired 3 rounds,* while the 3 active duty Marines stood at a distance facing the casket.
After the 8 gun salute, the 3 Marines approached and commenced with their ceremony.
The bugle player paced to the left and played Taps while the remaining 2 soldiers gave a final, white gloved salute.
The 2 remaining Marines then removed the flag from the casket and performed the flag folding ritual.
It was a solemn ceremony, and as the soldiers carefully folded the flag until only a triangle with stars** in the field of blue remained, the quiet time allowed each of us an opportunity to contemplate a life well lived.
When the young Marine came forward to present me with the flag, my eyes welled up with tears. I thought of this young man, and how my dad was once a young man just like him. They both had hopes and dreams. They both enlisted to serve, and possibly die for their country. I also thought of my neighbor, whose 2 sons had enlisted in the Marine Corps since 9/11. I felt a deep sense of gratitude for their service.
The young Marine handed me the flag with great solemnity and these traditional words: "On behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one's service to Country and Corps." I managed to whisper, Thank you.
Our Pastor finished the internment service with some scripture, a few words, and prayer. It wasn't a sad occasion but a celebration of a life lived well. Because of our faith, it was a celebration of the gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus.
Dad was always proud to have served as a Marine. It stayed with him until the end. They call these ceremonies, Military Honors. I can only say that it was truly an honor to witness these activities.
Thank you, Veterans, for your service to our country and for the final salute.
More information on Military Honors: Military farewells: White-gloved salutes, Taps, Flag-folding ceremonies begin healing
*The 3-volley salute "The custom originates from the European dynastic wars, where the fighting ceased for the dead and wounded to be removed, then three shots were fired into the air to signal that the battle could resume."
Afterward, one of the Veterans picked up all 21 shell casings, put them in a crimson cloth bag, and gave them to me as a keepsake.
**Taps & Flag Ceremony: (My emphasis) "A United States flag drapes the casket of deceased Servicemembers and Veterans to honor their service to America. The flag is placed so that the blue field with stars is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. After Taps has been played, the flag is carefully folded into the symbolic tri-cornered shape. A properly proportioned flag will fold 13 times on the triangles, representing the 13 original colonies. The folded flag is emblematic of the tri-cornered hat worn by the Patriots of the American Revolution. When folded, no red or white stripe is to be evident, leaving only the blue field with stars. The folded flag is then presented as a keepsake to the next of kin or an appropriate family member. Each branch of the Armed Forces uses its own wording for the presentation …"
Military Funeral Honors
Links: Practically Speaking, Fairly Conservative, Betterbrookfield, RandyMelchert, Jay Weber, Vicki McKenna, The Right View Wisconsin, CNS News, Mark Levin, Breitbart BigGovernment, The Heritage Foundation