As I took on this early morning with my task at hand in a few hours! I woke from my sleep before the alarm wakes me! I get up and swing my legs and feet over to the floor! The comforts of the ground, the silence within the room and a security of peace within the walls of my home.
As I begging to get ready, I clean my buttons, look over the precise placements, clean off and dirt and stitching that’s coming out! My thoughts are heavy and become more heavier with time!
I am fully dressed and ready. One last look before heading out, feeling different than any other days, feeling more thankful for each step taken. When I’m driving, I get stared at, with many nods, and a few waves. Zoning out to my drive I’ve realized the building I need to go to is in front of me.
I start walking towards the building, once again people look and stare. I’m then joined by six other close friends. We all are looking sharp and ready to see our friend!
Before me, inside this quite church, a silence takes over an emotional crowd, for what’s before me at waist high is my friend laying down, in a wooden beautifully made coffin, shinny as a mirror, perfectly put together covered in the stitches of red, white and blue, American flag!
Myself and my other friends grab this coffin, slowly and precise, as to the silence in the room it seemed you could hear our breaths, counting the movements and paces needed to make each move with precision! Slowly and with one step forward, we move towards the church doors. All I could see was a light guiding me my way. I kept thinking my friends way was similar. This was my sign that my friend is comfortably went his way!
Once we got to the hearse I turned and see my battle buddy. With a gaze in his eyes, a little cloudy from my distance they looked. I knew what he felt for I too felt the same. We loaded my friend in the hearse inch by inch, breath by breath!
Arriving to a green field of white stone hedges aligned perfectly. I had a moment of weakness, thinking of the history of each stone hedge, of each life. I get my bearings together. Once again, looking at my friend, I imagined the conversations we had out there, the great, the crazy, the scary, and most of all the saddest moment with him!
We once again carried my friend from the hearse to his resting place. All, I could do is think of his life, his family, who he was as a person & our moments we shared! He was an amazing person. As, fast as my thoughts ran, we got to the last steps, I hear “detail holt” as a moment within seconds of silence I heard the wind, felt the breeze, felt a presences surrounding me, a comfort of peace and thankfulness. I believe it was my friend saying his goodbye to me.
With called out cadence, a dedicated and precise movement was made, cutting the air, making silence a blade. The mourning crowd sobered, my friends wife out poured her tears, holding his favorite hand stitched handkerchief his grandmother made for his grandfather for when he went to war, my friend carried it his whole time over!
She continuously cries in it. As I glanced back over I saw his kids, unsure of this moment, knowing their dad is in the box in front of them, wondering if he is going to ever come out. I began to feel a sensation over me, my eyes start to become a bit blurry. The moment i realized my good friend I grew together with in the military is no longer with me. As i grasped the flag to do it’s final fold for the presentation to his family. I could hear the movement of the soldiers hand, following the edge, pinching the end, folding back over the movement of his glove over the material of the flag. As the highest ranking person finally had the flag in his hands, one hand on top and one hand on bottom. He slowly walks over with careful steps. He stops in front of the wife, bends over, still looking to his most precise, he softly speaks “This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.” She than began to open her hands, as the flag is lowered into her hands, her children began to comfort her as they know she is in pain.
I’m at the position of attention, I cant stop staring at her as I continually feel her pain. I wish I could break from my position but I know I’d disrespect the whole meaning of this solemn ceremony for I am giving my friend one of the highest honors given to someone who fought and lost their life. I next am startled by the sounds of gun fire, for my focus was not on the ceremony but the tears sliding down her cheek. Then back into it, as autonomously my motions were are ready at the saluting position. So stiff my arm was all the way to the tip of my white gloves.
This moment and the day to memorialize this day means more than most. I have seen much, I have done wrong, as well as, done right. I fought hard and took the time to rest. My friend is your friend, his wife is your wife, and his kids are yours. We shall surround the living by filled joy and love for the ones that lay before their feet gave them those same feelings. It’s beyond honor, beyond respect.. no expressions can truly be made to show the dedication for others not even to be known, under a government teeters their decisions, for it is beyond that. One thing, it’s what we have symbolically labeled a sign of freedom, patriotism, unity, dedication.. for the Red, white and the blue!