If I could use one word to describe this weekend's funeral events, I would use the word bittersweet. It was wonderful to see my 2 year old niece and nephew, my brothers and sisters in law, and the rest of Drew's Pennsylvania family. But given the circumstances, I would have preferred to have a family reunion over a happier occasion.
Drew's grandfather served one enlistment (5 years? We're speculating) in the Navy, and as such, was entitled to a military funeral. The Navy Reserve unit in Stroudsburg, PA provided the 21 gun salute as well as a detail unit in their dress whites to fold the flag. However, Drew's grandmother requested that he dress in his Marine Corps blues and present the flag to her. She felt more comfortable receiving the flag from someone she knew, and not a stranger. He immediately agreed, but to me behind closed doors, was expressing his stress ... what on Earth was he going to say to her? How was he going to simultaneously process his own emotions yet remain steadfast?
I had never been more proud of my husband than I was yesterday morning. He was crisp. He was precise.And on behalf of the United States Marine Corps, he was deeply sorry for her loss.The combination of the 21 guns, Taps and the presentation of the flag was more than enough to cause a new wave of waterworks.
The haunting melody of Taps, however ... had humble beginnings. Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Elli was with his men near Harrison's Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.
During the night, Captain Elli heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment..
When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.
The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out.. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status. His request was only partially granted.
The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral.
The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate. But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician. He chose a bugle.
The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth's uniform.
This wish was granted.
The haunting melody, we now know as 'Taps' used at military funerals was born.
Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lakes
From the hills.
From the sky.
All is well.
God is nigh.
Dims the sight.
And a star.
Gems the sky.
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