Wednesday, February 18, 2020
The family was assembled, along with a few friends. A private Memorial Service, first, followed by the commitment ceremony at Pikes Peak National Cemetery. The small service seemed fitting. Dad wasn’t one for large gatherings.
A seven-man military detail and a bugler, from Ft. Carson, were silently standing, waiting for our arrival at the cemetery. They had waited in the cold, windy conditions for more than thirty minutes. Dress blues. No coat, no gloves. When we stepped out of the cars, the detail came to attention. The precision of a military funeral began. After the cremated remains of mom and dad were placed on a ceremonial table, Fr. Price from St. Mary’s Cathedral offered the final prayers.
Laurie tightened her hold of my hand. Deborah, holding my other hand, tightened her hold too. The rifle volley, the playing of Taps, followed.
The last portion of the committal ceremony was the folding and presentation of the flag, followed by the presentation of the Presidential Gold Certificate. All the words were said, “On behalf of the President and a grateful Nation …” After the Presidential Certificate was presented, the ceremony was concluded.
Before leaving the cemetery, I needed to sign a pair of forms, and provide final approval of the grave marker. On dad’s side of the marker, I would have listed everything – Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Prisoner of War. There wasn’t enough space however. On mom’s side of the marker, a three-line personalization.
Thursday, February 18, 2021
A year later, today was not much different. Very gray. Cold. A little snow. The sun then began to poke through the overcast, eventually giving way to patches of blue sky. With Laurie, Andrea and the girls away, Nancy came with me. First, we stopped at the florist to pick up the pink and white carnations she had ordered. It was her first time at the national cemetery.
She laid the carnations, said her prayers. “I’m so sorry, David,” while giving me a hug.
After spending a few more minutes at their grave, Nancy and I walked back to the car. I told her mom occasionally asked me about her. “I guess she thought we would become a couple or just be close, close friends.” Nancy flashed a smile. “That was sweet of her. Close, close friends, I like that.”
Before leaving the cemetery grounds, I showed her around. The cemetery has changed over the past year. A second committal shelter has been added. The main administration and visitor center building completed. Columbariums added.
Then, I showed Nancy where Andrea and I had Kyle reinterred here. From her bag, she pulled out a small teddy bear. Nancy knelt, covering her eyes in prayer. I knew she was crying. After a couple of minutes, I helped Nancy to her feet. I asked if she was okay. Nancy nodded yes.
Our drive home was quiet.