While a funeral is a private occasion, I still want to have a record of it for my memories since the day meant a lot to me, even in its sadness. I was struck by how many people came to show what my grandfather meant to them and the awe I felt in response to the different ways he was honored was enough to make me teary if I had not already been incredibly sad.
My aunt put together a photo collage that contained old photos of my grandfather from his travels over the years. As a member of the 101st Airborne, my granddad traveled all over the world and I saw pictures of him in front of a pyramid in Egypt, in a pub in Europe and several others that I had never seen before. It was also precious to see the family photos from when my mom was a young child.
Since patriotism is in the blood, it was a a powerful image to see the Screaming Eagle insignia and American flag draped appropriately. I actually did take some pictures of the flowers people sent. I took NO pictures of people, out of respect, but the gesture to send flowers was sweet and from some unexpected people. It was a trying night, but it is also comforting to be around family and loved ones.
The next day, I was very nervous for the car processional to the cemetery after the funeral service. I thought I was going to be the last car and I worried they'd lose me or I would do something wrong. Well, there turned out to be no need for worry because I was car number five of about 15. We also had four motorcycle cops who accompanied us from Leesburg to Falls Church, VA and pretty much shut down any road with traffic so we could pass. It was a sight to behold. Ali and I couldn't believe it and made sure to remind ourselves that we would indeed have to obey traffic laws on the way back.
When we got to the cemetery the policemen were standing at the entrance saluting. Ali and I wanted to slow down and say thank you somehow, but of course, that was not really possible. We smiled and nodded our heads so I hope they know what we were trying to convey! Need I remind you how bitter cold it was on Friday? And they were on motorcycles. Brrr!
My aunt told me later that as we drove in, she saw a young soldier holding a trumpet and knew she would be hearing Taps. I had not seen him, so I was taken by surprise when, after two other soldiers presented the flag to my uncle, I heard the song. Oh. My. Gosh. It was so honorable and sad at the same time.
Thanks for all of your kind comments on my last post. You are all very sweet.