Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tender

Today I sang at the funeral of a man who lived a full life serving God and Country. He was given military honors which includes a 3-volley salute.

The practice of firing three rifle volleys over the grave originated in the old custom of halting the fighting to remove the dead from the battlefield. Once each army had cleared their dead, it would fire three volleys to indicate that the dead had been cared for and that they were ready to fight again. It is the three volleys that are significant, not the number of rifles. Three volleys fired over the casket have become a tradition to mean the dead have been cared for. It has evolved into a military salute for the deceased serving their country. Firing the three volleys over the casket is one of the highest honors to give a deceased military veteran. Our nation’s highest honor is a flag draped over the casket, folded and presented. Tradition is to place three spent shell casings inside the folded flag to prove now and forevermore that the deceased and his flag have had proper military honors. Nothing else is to be placed inside the flag.

I was taken back to a day just over two years ago when I stood in a military chapel as these honors were given for a young soldier, husband and father of someone who has become a very dear friend to me. At that time I didn't understand the ceremony. I was merely deeply shaken by its violence and finality and distraught that she had to endure it. When I saw the soldiers today I wanted to turn around and run away. My heart is tender from the memory of that day and the sting of this one.
I am keenly aware that I could be witnessing this detail at my own husband's funeral and I pray that it will be after he too has had an opportunity to live a full life in service to God and Country.

9 comments:

mel said...

Thanks for letting us know....and to remind everyone that we are still a nation at war....and that the service of others truly needs to be commemorated. Really, thanks for sharing this.

Jenster said...

Blessings to you and prayers for your husband. Prayers also for the other families you wrote of.

His Girl said...

thanks for making me cry.

His Girl said...

*less nasty and sarcastic interpretation:
thank you for being such an incredible tool to my spiritual growth. it amazes me that you are constantly turning my eyes toward the right direction. this post proves why you MUST continue blogging forever.

Jenster said...

this post proves why you MUST continue blogging forever.

I'll testify!!!

Becky said...

Very poignant. We'll be praying for your hubby, too.

Vindiciti said...

...and you yelled at Kim for making you cry. Bah. Thanks alot.

The first time I saw a military funeral, it was my dad's. There's just something about the volleys and taps and the folding of the flag that makes you bawl even when you're mad as can be.

Thank God I'm not mad about it anymore, and I pray that neither I nor my friends (aka you) have to hear that anytime soon.

Love ya.
See you tomorrow.

Marsha said...

Even though I haven't been around lately, I've been praying for your husband's safety.

Shauna said...

Prayers for your husband's safety and safe return. And prayers for those who've said goodbye to loved ones in service. And yes, continue blogging FOREVER!