Yesterday was Veterans Day. Being the widow of a career Air Force Colonel, I can’t tell you how important this day is to all veterans and to the families of those who “Gave All”. I try to drive up to Leavenworth, Kansas every Veterans Day, to visit the National Cemetery where my Arch is resting, but yesterday, I didn’t make it. Instead, I attended the funeral of Albert Bernard Knickrehm, World War II Marine. Al was the husband of my dear friend, Dot, and the step-father of my daughter-in-law, Michelle.
I was unaware of Al’s service in the Marines, but when I arrived at the church, there they stood….3 beautiful young Marines in their perfect uniforms, one of them holding a bugle.
The service was wonderful; Father Richard Storey knew Al and his family very well. I was surprised when the accompanist began to play the Marine Hymn and men stood up throughout the sanctuary. The Marines were present. Latin for "always faithful," Semper Fidelis became the Marine Corps motto in 1883. It guides Marines to remain faithful to the mission at hand, to each other, to the Corps and to country, no matter what.
There is no such thing as an ex-Marine.
At the end of the service, two of the young Marines moved slowly and gracefully up the center aisle to the flag draped casket. Once there, they meticulously folded the flag and finally, presented it to Dot with a very softly spoken message of thank you from her country. I remember the words well from the day I was given the flag that had draped Arch’s coffin. "This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Air Force in appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service." It is so comforting to clutch that flag to your heart.
To end the ceremony celebrating the life of Al Knickrehm, the remaining Marine lifted his bugle and played the incredibly mournful “Taps”.
It was a lovely service and the perfect way to observe Veterans Day.
I ended my day by joining four dear friends, the Richters and the Wills, for dinner. There was wonderful food, fabulous wine, laughter, joy, memories and a tear or two. It was a very powerful day, a good day. A day I will remember.