Hearing taps, and watching them fold the flag from my father's casket was truly a moving experience.
After folding the flag, the young soldier came over and knelt down at my mom's seat. He presented her with the flag, and he had tears rolling down his cheek. He struggled with a quivering voice as he told her that on behalf of the US Army, he presented her with the flag, and he thanked her for my father's service in the pacific. He did not know my father, but he mourned for the loss of one of his "brothers in arms". I have to say watching him give my mom that flag was the most moving experience of my life.
Below is my best buddy Mark. Mark is not in the military, but he has a particular set of skills that result in him working in Afghanistan. In America's War on Terror, he is on the very edge of the sharp end of the spear. Given his line of work, I find it interesting that he is probably the sweetest man I have ever met in my life. It was a true blessing that he happened to have returned from Afghanistan the day before my dad got sick. Mark, my brother, my dad and I spent many, many afternoons over the last ten years sitting on the South Concho river smoking fine Cuban cigars. Mark was there with us during that last week. He would hold my dads hand and just say the sweetest things you ever heard. For hours on end he would just whisper to my dad, "You are my old buddy, you are my old smoking buddy, you are my old ride around town buddy". He sat and told my dad about every good time they had ever had together.
Cousin Scott was also a Pall Bearer.
Yes, it was a military funeral, but it was also much more. You see, I really did it. In the end I really did it . . . I ordered up a Mariachi Band to be at the cemetery. You see, there were many unusual things about my dad, but one of the really unique things about him is that he had a peculiar love of Mexicans. I say "peculiar" in that he was not looking for social justice, he was not political, he was not trying to right wrongs or anything like that, he just loved Mexicans. When I was a little boy, he taught himself Spanish, and then he was always looking for a Mexican to talk to. In later years when he could not get around very well, my mom would leave him on the bench in the front of walmart while she went in shopping. When she would get done, and come back to get him, he would invariably have a group of Mexicans around him talking to them. They probably thought it was funny that this old guy wanted to talk to them. When he was in the hospital that last week, a lot of the nurses were Mexican, and he would always speak to them in Spanish. Then as he grew weak, and could not see who was there, he would speak to all the nurses in Spanish, I guess just in case they were Mexican. The white nurses would have to ask him to speak English.
Our lovely daughter, and a young lady of great faith refuses to wear black to a funeral.