Honoring a Fallen Hero

by Angela on August 27, 2011

Yesterday my husband and I attended a burial service at Arlington National Cemetery.  To say this was one of the most powerful and emotional services I’ve been to is an understatement.  Not only is the ceremony itself so powerful, but the fact that it was my good friend’s husband made it just that much more emotional.  I debated on writing about it but I felt it was such a beautiful ceremony that I had to share.  Names will be withheld to respect their privacy as they mourn and heal from this tragedy.

2011 08 - Funeral headstones

Prior to leaving, I was fretting about what to wear, what shoes to wear, if I should bring comfortable shoes to change into for the mile-long procession, should I bring an umbrella.  But when we got there, suddenly all of that was so trivial compared to what my friend was going through.  Her husband was one of the Navy Seals killed when their chinook was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6th.  So this funeral service was not only for my friend’s husband, but 12 other brave men as well. 

While family congregated in the chapel, friends and everyone attending to honor those fallen and to support the families they left behind, filled a banquet hall to the point of overflow.  It just showed the sheer impact these men and their families had on people’s lives.  After the chapel service, we all followed the procession to the gravesite. 

2011 08 - Funeral procession

2011 08 - Funeral caskets

Once at the gravesite, we all waited in silence for the flyover. 

2011 08 - Funeral flyover

As the jets soared overhead, they performed the aerial salute called the missing man flyover formation, typically in memory of a fallen pilot.  I unfortunately did not catch this on camera, but it was breathtaking and heartbreaking watching the single jet break from the group and fly off into the clouds.  Words just can’t explain the emotional impact of this symbolic salute.

This was followed by a gunfire salute called the 3-volley salute.  It consists of a rifle party firing into the air three times.  This custom originates in Europe where fighting was ceased in order for the dead and wounded to be removed.  Three shots were fired to signal that the battle could resume.  Again, the impact of hearing 3 shots fired into complete silence just can’t be explained in words.

The most emotional and memorable part of the day for me was watching my friend kneel by her husband’s casket with her two kids.  My heart just breaks for her and her two children who lost a father they will never know and are too young to remember.  My friend if you are reading this, thank you to your husband for fighting selflessly for our country.  Thank you to you and other families who support the brave men and women who fight for our country and risk this tragedy every day.  May God hold you and your children in the palm of His hands until you are once again reunited with your love.

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Carly August 27, 2011 at 5:37 pm

This is an amazing post…Thank you for sharing…I couldn’t be there due to work/family obligations but now feel like I did take a part in honoring their family. Such a heartwrenching tragedy…I can still barely believe it.
She is so strong….an inspiration to us all.
Best to you and your family…hope you are safe at home in all this crazy weather.

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