Today I had the greatest honor, mixed with the deepest sadness; I had the privilege to attend a military funeral. I have never been good when it comes to death, and to be honest I have avoided these until today. I did not know the man who passed, and he was not even deployed but I still felt compelled to pay my respects.
It was a warm and sunny afternoon as the attendee's gathered outside of the chapel. There were plenty of hugs and tears even before the service started. My friend and I took our seats, toward the back but not at the end. Seeing the American flag, the German flag, the Warrior's Transition Unit (WTU) Battalion flag, and the Brigade flag all placed perfectly behind the picture, boots, weapon and helmet of a fallen soldier hit me harder than I thought. We stood as the pianist played the German National Anthem followed seamlessly by our National Anthem. Hands immediately went across hearts, people stood up straight and everyone kept their eyes on the flag. We were asked to remain standing as the family entered the chapel. Honestly this is one of the most heartbreaking moments to watch. His wife's eyes were filled with tears, red and her mascara was running. She was assisted down the main aisle by family and another soldier. The eulogy was read by a fellow soldier followed by the battalion chaplain, the 4-70th Armor (the man's previous unit) Family Readiness Liaison (FRL), the WTU Commander and the WTU Battalion Commander each shared their thoughts on our fallen soldier. Then the 1st Sergeant did a final roll call, and when the soldiers name was called, obviously he did not answer. It was after repeating his name three times that the firing squad fired its 21 gun salute. For those who do not know, the firing squad is made up of 7 men and women who each fire 3 shots into the air. After just 1 experience to a live 21 gun salute, you will forever have a moment that takes your breath away. After the 21 gun salute came the trumpet call. That song will send chills down any military wife's spine. Lastly after the man's wife paid her respects, the church followed suit and row by row, paid their respects to a fallen comrade.
As my friend and I approached the front of the church an amazing feeling took over me. This man had served 2 tours in Iraq, defended our freedom, and just like that he was gone. Its amazing how quick a good thing can turn bad. Its unfortunate but things like this always have a way with sticking with us.
Even with everything going on in my life, I still know that no matter what I do I am proud to have been apart of something like this. A military funeral is not one like I have ever been to in my life. Even though I didn't know him, he was part of my community. He was a friend, a neighbor, a father, and a husband. Its different in the military, when you lose one of your own not only do you grieve, the entire community grieves too.