Thoughts: “The Final Farewell – TAPS”

You couldn’t have asked for a better day to say farewell.  The skies were so blue and crystal clear.  As family and friends gathered, you could feel the quiet, calm and peace all around.

All of the details were precisely planned and carried out in the same manner and pace as others before. Everyone knew their place and their role.  And, with each snap, clip and salute the farewell began and our dear husband, father, grandfather, cousin and uncle was laid to rest with full Military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

If you have never had the opportunity to participate in a Military burial at Arlington, it is an extremely humbling experience.

As we quietly and respectfully watched the military pall bearers escort the flag draped coffin from the  Old Post Chapel on Ft. Myer they precisely and carefully placed it on the horse drawn caisson.

The Air Force color guard and the soldiers tactfully guided the procession through Arlington as the sun glistened through the trees, casting shadows on the tombstones, the silence barely being broken by the echo of the coordinated footsteps of the horses.

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The caisson came to a halt as we made the last turn at Patton and Eisenhower.  There, as the color guard took their place we all stood in the background watching while the priest received the family by the graveside.

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Then, just as earlier, the military pall bearers precisely removed the flag draped coffin from the caisson and carried it to the final resting place.

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Off in the distance  the bagpipes began to play “Amazing Grace.” Carefully and articulately the flag was removed and folded corner to corner, and handed it to his wife while a 21 gun salute rang out.

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Then, on cue, the bugle played the final farewell……..”Taps:”

Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Fading light, dims the sight,
And a star gems the sky, gleaming bright.
From afar, drawing nigh, falls the night.

Thanks and praise, for our days,
‘Neath the sun, ‘neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.

Sun has set, shadows come,
Time has fled, Scouts must go to their beds
Always true to the promise that they made.

While the light fades from sight,
And the stars gleaming rays softly send,
To thy hands we our souls, Lord, commend.


Post script:  In honor of those who fought  to protect the freedom we often take for granted.  God Bless America. 

Special thanks to my sister-in-law, friend and fellow photographer Janice Janik for contributing to this post.

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