Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Funeral

ksl.com - Orem soldier laid to rest (Gallery Viewer)

Funerals are strange things. They have all the ingredients of a great party; old friends you haven't seen in awhile, nostalgia, photos, pomp and circumstance. The only problem is, you can't give the guest of honor a really well needed bear hug. Some things will have to wait.
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Matt's funeral was my first military funeral. I was worried I wouldn't find the building, but the hundreds of American flags not only cued me in, but also took my breath away. The Patriot Guard was there. They are a group of bikers that dedicate themselves to honor fallen servicemen and women by attending the funerals, helping in anyway they can and shielding the family from any protesters. Walking by this rag-tag, leather wearing group, I felt the spirit so strong I got goose bumps. Their love and respect for those who sacrifice their lives for freedom was a palpable thing.
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All of the many speakers echoed Matt's kindness and willingness to go above and beyond for all he came in contact with. The last speaker summed it up perfectly when he said there was no way of saying what Matt meant to him and his family in a little speech. The only way he could figure out how to honor him was by continuing his legacy of helping people without needing to be asked. Easier said than done, but I will try to do so as well.
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There is great healing power in the military rituals. The helicopter flyover, the 21 gun salute and the flag folding ceremony fill you with strength. In the end though, laughter truly is the best medicine and the most cathartic moment came when Matt's father interrupted his own speech to talk to Matt for a second, because he had just remembered to tell him Utah Sate beat BYU 31-16!!! The timing couldn't have been better for that one. Talk about your tender mercies.

1 comment:

Candice said...

I love your writing. I love the way you see the world. Few people could have written about a military funeral like you just did.