On January 11th I participated with the Patriot Guard in a memorial ceremony at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery to honor and inter the remains of six veterans from WWI and WWII. Their cremated remains were located through "Missing in America", a fairly new national effort to locate unclaimed cremated remains of veterans, and to give them the honor and respect they deserve.
The cremains of these six veterans were all located in a mortuary in St. Louis and were the first ones to be interred in Missouri so far. Others have been located but there is a lengthy legal process that is still in the works.
Six of the Patriot Guard Riders met at the mortuary to provide motorcycle escort to the cemetery. The rest of us met earlier elsewhere and rode in a double bike line with police escort to the cemetery where we set up a flag line leading to the chapel. (Since Jay was working, I just followed in the van with a few other cars.) I was standing in that flag line until they asked some of us including me to go inside the chapel with our flags.
There was a lot of activity while everyone waited for the hearse to arrive. Kilt wearing bagpipe players (who I learned were St. Louis firemen) were practicing, six soldiers waited, one to carry each urn... TV cameras were there, the bugle player warmed up, speakers... Congressman Carnahan, Major General King Sidwell (MO Adjacent General, whatever that means), and others milled around. I can't remember who they all were. What I DO remember is listening to the general give his speech and watching the tears run down his cheeks.
During the ceremony each of the six soldiers carried one urn while a brief military history of the deceased veteran was read and bagpipes played off in the distance. One at a time they slowly carried the urn through the chapel to the table at the front where everyone saluted. Even though there were six veterans it seemed like they each got their own little chunk of time. Some of these veterans were highly decorated. When all of the urns had been placed on the table, taps was played and a 21 gun salute. (I assume it was 21... I only heard three shots, but someone told me that there are seven soldiers shooting all at once so that makes 21) The ceremony ended with a passing in review led by General Sidwell, who paused in front if each urn and saluted.
One of the speakers pointed out that we have heard the military history of these vets, but nothing about their personal lives.... they were sons, fathers, husbands. Whatever struggles they went through in their lives is unknown. How they ended up "unclaimed" on a shelf in a mortuary is also unknown, but finally they have received the honor and respect they deserve.
I was very touched by the event. When I got home I called the MO state chairman for the Missing in America Project (also a Patriot Guard member) and offered to contact the mortuaries here in Fulton. I figured it was something that I can and should take part in. I had thought about it in the past but never moved on it. Now I will.
Originally I created this blog after my trip to India in 2005 to keep in touch with my new Indian family and friends. Now I'm thinking of changing it to keeping in touch with my family and friends EVERYWHERE... because I'm just as bad about communicating with those closer to home as I am about communiting with those in India. As you can see I have changed the title too.
I see that blogger has done a lot of changing since I last did anything on here. I have updated my template and just as they warned, I ended up losing a lot of the formating and other things I had before. Oh well. The new blogger IS easier to work with. It will take me awhile to get all the links updated and in order and so on.
I put a subscription box on the blog so that anyone who wants to can be notified by email when I write a new entry. The problem is that it is too wide for the area it goes in and I have yet to figure out how to shrink it. Oh Well. If it works, then that is the important thing. The google group (subscribe) will be a no reply group so the only time you will get an email from it is when there is notification of a new entry on my blog. You can comment on the entries, but have to do it from the main blog page.
Okay, that's where my heads at right now. I'm still figuring it all out, but I like a challenge.
I started this blog in January 2005, shortly after returning from spending a month in India. This is what I wrote and it still stands today.
Thank You! Thank you ALL for all you did for us to make us feel loved, welcome and comfortable during our trip to India. I was totally amazed at how we were treated so well and felt so welcome in the family circle.
I will never forget this trip, no matter how BAD my memory gets. Besides the wedding and reception and some of the ancient structures we visited, I will mostly remember the friendliness and overall "goodness" of the Indian people. I think that India's greatest natural resource is perhaps her people. My family in the US is very different than my new Indian family in many ways, but there are similarities too, especially in the love we feel for each other which can now be expanded to include the larger circle of both families.