Most of us think of Memorial Day as another Monday holiday, another day off from work, and baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie. But the real purpose, as the name implies, is in memory of our men and women who died while in the military service.
I had an experience that reinforced this purpose for me. Several years ago I attended the burial of a classmate from West Point who died of brain cancer after serving 30 years in the Army. Although I had visited Arlington National Cemetery before, I had never attended a funeral service and burial there. It was a somber but rewarding experience.
It started with a memorial service in the Old Post Chapel on Fort Myer adjacent to the cemetery, with probably more than 300 people in attendance, including many of our classmates.
Following that, we walked to the gravesite; as it turns out, it was about a mile. The clear sky, moderate temperature, and soft breeze made it more bearable (although the uphill return walk was a challenge). What made the entire event more memorable were two things: the casket was transported on a horse-drawn wagon, and at the gravesite, 12 white doves were released into the air, flying in unison for several minutes.
So even though I’d prefer not to have to attend another similar funeral, it did make me pause to remember those who have given their lives for their country. Colonel Jeff Jones, rest in peace…
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Randolph Mase, Fiction Writer
Death on Broadway
Death Beneath the Streets
Death in Central Park
Death at the Cloisters (just published!)
Death Inside Diamond Head (under construction)