Friday, February 8, 2008

Laying to rest America's WWII Veterans with Honors

First, my condolences to Mr. Auster on the death of his uncle. I'm glad he mentioned the U.S. military Honor Guard detail present at his uncle's funeral service. Indeed, this is a ceremony the words for which to accurately describe I struggle to find as I write this post. It is nonetheless important to me, though, to say a few things about this ceremony, notwithstanding the fact that I know that any words I choose for describing it will fall far short of capturing the rapturous pride and patriotic exuberance which the mere witness of this ceremony raises in one's soul, even as one mourns the death of a friend or loved one.

Having myself been in attendance at several of these services conducted for family members and WWII veterans, most recently a great uncle who was a Navy veteran wounded in action during a WWII naval battle, I can personally attest to the fact of the solemnity that the involvement of the U.S. Military Honor Guard uniquely adds to the occasion. If one is present during the conduct of this ceremony, from the folding of the flag to the presentation of it to the next of kin and the verbal statement of gratitude on behalf of the President and the nation, to the salute and the playing of Taps, as well as the precision and exactness of every single gesture and movement, and is not deeply moved by the solemnity, the sincerity, and the most dignified manner in which this ceremony is conducted, then I think it accurate to say that this person has lost his soul.

But as I said, whatever words I use, I cannot do the actual experience of it justice. If you've never been in physical attendance at one of these ceremonies, you're truly missing out on something special and very unique. It is perhaps the finest, most dignified and respectful non-verbal expression of gratitude that a nation could possibly offer its fallen heros and their families for the sacrifices made in its behalf. It is certainly, and as Mr. Auster says, something the U.S. military knows how to do right. I simply cannot imagine how it possible that it could be done any better.


Rick Darby said...

Although I haven't been to a military funeral, I've seen several formal military ceremonies, including the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery.

These events are very moving, representing as they do once-familiar rites that have all but vanished in modern civilian life: the maintenance of tradition, gravitas, and the last survival of the pageantry that used to symbolize civic and national continuance.