When I was growing up, my grandmother always said that if it was raining on the day of a funeral it was God’s blessing. However, she also said if it was sunny on the day of a funeral it was God’s blessing. Yesterday morning it rained. When I walked out my front door and felt the first drops on me, I smiled; God was going to bless us today.
As I pulled into the church parking lot, I smiled again; the Patriot Guard Riders were standing in the cold, windy mist with their flags. Some had hats and gloves others held cups of coffee to keep their hands warm. I hugged some, shook some hands and thanked them. They thanked me. There was absolutely no reason to thank me and Biker B. said there was, “For all you do,” with You being BSM collectively. It was the same reason I thanked them.
There were two friends who spoke; one from his childhood and the other from his service. Both told stories that made everyone give a chuckle and as we watched the backs of the heads of those in front of us nodding, we knew they were all remembering the good times. We always hear the stories about bonds of brotherhood, but it’s typically in general conversation. Yesterday that bond was so evident. The point at which it sank in for me was when his best friend, who also serves in the Army, said it through tears; he called him a brother and said he loved him. The words of his other friend that stood out to me were when he said the mission was successful. He described a mission being successful when you leave on a mission you, you want to make sure your men return; Josh’s men returned. He also described the mission as being successful when you return; Josh returned home.
At the cemetery it was quiet except for the sounds of muffled sobs as the pastor read his words. It was cold and windy at times. Although I knew it was coming, the 21 gun salute caused me to jump with each round. There was an Army officer to my left, about 1-1/2 steps behind me, standing at attention and as that first round was fired, a tear rolled down his cheek. They also flew a helicopter over. Watching as the flag was folded and presented to his parents, we knew the end of the service was drawing near. The pastor quoted Joseph Campbell in his message at the church , “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” I always remember a quote by Karl von Clausewitz, “Courage, above all things, is the first quality of a warrior.” This young man held so many titles: son, brother, friend, Soldier, warrior, Hero. He was courageous in his service and duty and is a true Hero who was loved by so many and remembered by so many more. He now lays to rest at the foot of his grandmother’s grave.
Last night over dinner, I needed Will to talk to me. I needed him to tell me things that he normally wouldn’t talk about with me, mainly the pretty much unspoken bond he shares with his soldiers. He isn’t one who discusses his feelings openly and sometimes not even when I ask. As I told him about the remarks from the funeral, I asked was it “true.” We hear about that bond but is it something that is really felt deep within. While it sounds like an odd question, I needed to hear his answer. The times I see Will with his Soldiers/friends are social situations with laughing, cutting up and annoying boy habits. And his answer was simple, “Yes. Those you train with, work with and fight with are your brothers. When you leave on a mission your goal is to bring them home. His friend was right, their mission was successful; everyone came home.” My Soldier’s voice was hushed as he spoke those words, whether he intended it to be or not. I told him that even though they are human, we have this image of Soldiers (Marines, Airmen, etc., too) being so strong and unwavering and it was hard watching these Soldiers shed tears. We all shed them.