View Full Version : Reflections at a Graveside service

10 Apr 10,, 06:14
My father-in-law passed away a few months ago. We had a rather tempestuous relationship, to say the very least. I knew him for more than 30 years, and in that time I watched as alcohol and bitterness ate away at his soul and body until there was little left functioning of either one.
I had to leave town while he was in the ICU. I stepped in to say goodbye, and he greeted me weakly with the tenderest and most genuine smile I had seen. He wanted to know if I liked my new job, and seemed very glad when I said I did. Then he reached out towards me. For the first and last time in our relationship, we shook hands.
I think he knew we would never meet again.
I stood at his graveside in the bitter North Dakota wind and watched the Color Guard perform flawlessly, honoring his Navy service. His son, my brother-in-law, home on emergency leave from Kosovo stood at his mothers side. My eldest son (USAF) saluted for himself and his brother overseas who could not attend.
I realize now that military service defined more of his character than I ever knew. It was the only part of his life of which he seemed to have no regrets.
On the display shelf in my library stands a short row of fired '06 blank cases, policed from the brown prairie grass of a country cemetary.
And so, to those here who will, I believe, understand;
I think I get it now.

Officer of Engineers
10 Apr 10,, 06:25
Present Arms.

10 Apr 10,, 06:52
God bless your father-in-law and give all comfort to those he's left behind.

God bless you for such a heart-felt memorium. I'm sorry for the circumstances causing friction between him and you. I'm glad that both of you had a final opportunity to reach across the barriers between one another.

Well done.

Present arms!

10 Apr 10,, 07:17
All those words like 'Honor', 'Duty', and 'Country' sounded like so much BS to me back in my high school and college years.

I quietly smirked at my father and brother for "wasting" their time in the military back then.

I realized how wrong I was and these days I waste no opportunity to let them know they made the correct decision and I didn't.

You professionals have no idea how much I envy you. :)

God bless your father-in-law, 2DREZQ....and to many here and all around the world like him.

10 Apr 10,, 07:27
I know what it's like. Every time I get word that a former LBNSY employee (many whom I've worked with) has died I try to attend the funeral. I usually present a Long Beach Naval Shipyard plaque to the family and I also have an extra roundel of the plaque placed in the coffin.

If he was also a veteran, I wear my American Legion hat and give him a full salute.

The last time I needed to do this was when I got an email from our former Personnel Supervisor (now living in Texas) who caught the obituary in the on-line newspaper. The funeral was that morning. I rushed to shave, shower and grab a plaque and roundel. I always have my cap in the car.

He wasn't too well liked by some people at the shipyard as he had a strange attitude about him. Years ago, I found out why. He was a Marine at Pork Chop Hill. Yes, I know the movie shows only Army trying to take the hill. But it was Marines driving personnel carriers up the hill to re-supply the Army with rations and ammo then carrying the wounded and dead back down. All this man could remember was waking up in a padded cell with food on a paper plate being pushed under the door. He never knew what hit him. It could have been a Chinese mortar shell, a well thrown grenade or even a short round of "friendly fire".

But I felt it was my duty to be at his funeral. I gave a mounted plaque to his family and placed the roundel myself between his hands. And as his casket was being put into the hearse I was able to give him one final salute.

May the good Lord be with you as it must have been his calling for you to be with your father-in-law one last time and see each other as friends.

10 Apr 10,, 19:13
All three of his sons joined the Guard, though one had to drop out of Basic with bad knees. One is still in, serving in Kosovo right now. He was very proud of them (though he hated the Iraq war and sweated out his sons year there-it aged him terribly), and of my boys as well, it was one of the few things we really saw eye-to-eye on.

I've always wondered how well I would have done the job. I never got the chance-I couldn't pass the eye exam.

I never really thought I would say this, but I am going to miss him.

11 Apr 10,, 02:47

A sad but touching tribute. I spent a mere 2 1/2 yrs in the service of my country and yet I consider it one of the crown jewels of my life. Thank God your father had that to balance whatever regrets he may have had in his life. May he rest in peace.

Officer of Engineers
11 Apr 10,, 07:26
I've always wondered how well I would have done the job.You've already answered your own question.
It's phonetic:

2-D-REZ-Q = Two-the-rescue

It's my license plate on my old 1978 Jeep Cherokee.

One day in early spring a few years ago I spent almost the entire day pulling stuck vehicles out and sheparding them to motels during a freak snowstorm. I've run rescue missions for kids with blown tires, transmissions, motor homes stuck in the middle of the highway at night, stuff like that.
Also, I help save lives in ER as part of my job. I've had to race to the hospital many time to do it. When you see my rig coming fast, there's a good reason.You've saved lives! Do you seriously think that combat is better than what you've done? I certainly don't.

12 Apr 10,, 03:42
You've already answered your own question.You've saved lives! Do you seriously think that combat is better than what you've done? I certainly don't.

I guess you're right, thanks.