02 June 2007

Saying Goodbye - A Moment Burned in Time






Sorry for the fuzzy pics, they are from my cell phone


This might be kind of long, but I think it's important so bear with me...


The story:

It started with a phone call Friday afternoon. The priest of the church we hold Revolution at has become a friend of mine. It's quite beneficial having an Episcopal Priest to communicate with for all sorts of reasons; one is being kept abreast of any local social justice issues.

The message on my cell said that a funeral was being held for a U.S. Marine at a Fort Collins Catholic Church Saturday. The problem was that the Phelps gang was planning on attending in protest; not because of the war, but because America loves gays and God doesn't, so if you wear a military uniform, you deserve to die (according the them). If you are unfamiliar with this cult from hell, you can check them out here if you can stomach it.

I don't care how you feel about the war in Iraq, but I care a whole damn lot about how we treat a young man who was killed a week ago leaving a grieving family with two young children behind.

So we gathered our Revolutionaries, and joined a couple hundred people who stood outside the church to protect the mourners from hateful words and pictures from hateful people. We were to provide a shield of protection made from bed sheets or whatever we could find. In addition there were at least fifty Bikers there with their Harley's and such that would provide 'background' noise if the protesters began shouting.

The beauty of it all was that the Phelps cohort never showed! Rob thinks we prayed them away. I'm good with that theory.

Once the casket was inside about half the people left. The rest of us stuck around just in case they showed up later.

Let me 'join you in progress...'

It was a full Marine military funeral. The morning so far went without a hitch and the mourners were inside. A few cops strolled, and few Marines stood at attention. The 200 anti-protester protesters were now about half.

Over an hour past. The church doors opened. From across the street I could see directly into the dimly lit sanctuary as the shadows of Marines began to carry the casket out, draped in the American flag.

Pacifists and War Vets stood side by side as a show of unity against the hate that never came. The solemn ceremony would finish outside in the street. As the casket lay several yards in front of me, a marine approached and read the letter that awarded his fallen comrade the purple heart.

A twenty-one gun salute broke the silence.

BANG!

BANG!

BANG!

The seven honor guard then stood at attention and taps began to play.

As the last note echoed in my ears more Marines began to fold the flag. It was slowly and with a great sense of honor, given to the widow. Two more flags were given to other family members. I can only assume it was his parents and his in-laws.

Then before the body was to be carried into the hearse...a pause. I could see the weeping lover, wife, and mother of his children be allowed to say goodbye one last time.

The casket was opened. Her face vanished for a moment behind the raised top. The rest of her was seen clearly as she bent over at the front of the casket - as if she kissed him upside down and gently touched his cheek, telling him she loved him. Then she backed away and the lid closed forever.

A final quiet thud.

The son, about four ran to his mother and they held each other close. I could hear her say, "It's okay, it's okay."

Memories of my own fathers death when I was five entered my mind. Yet this moment was too intimate, too real, to even feel the past. I was here. I was now.

Then, with the mother holding the carefully folded flag, and the smell of rifle shots still hanging in the air, she put her son down. Standing in front of his mother, he looked at the casket, raised his hand... and slowly waived goodbye.

Amazing grace began to play on a lonely bagpipe...

6 comments:

Danimal said...

I will post the pictures in the next few days. The evil-doers didnt show. But with love and compassion those that matter did show up. I left for a bit in the middle, but thanks to the providence of God, i witnessed the honnor and love that our community sent an altruistic soldier off to eternity. Regardless of belief, it was the second most powerful funeral I have seen.
The Stand against hate resonated through the world and to all those that fight against hate and opression.

paul said...

it is a beautiful thing that in the face of something so hateful you could all stand together in love, for love, as love...

sonja said...

I'm confused ... what is the point of the "Phelps gang" showing up at a straight Marine's funeral?

Which is not to take away from the beautiful act of love and prayer you all committed to and committed. I think the fact that you guys said you would be there was a prayer and it resonated throughout the supernatural world ... which caused the powers of hate to stay home that day.

I loved the picture of all the different contrasts standing side by side ... the Marines and the pacifists; the Revolutionaries and the Harley dudes ... priceless.

David said...

It was a very powerful morning.

There is NO logical reason for the Phelps gang to show up. In there demonic logic, they think that by protesting a military funeral they are standing against a gay loving country.

It makes no sense on any level.

I'm glad they didn't show.

lyn said...

I'm glad they didn't show up, from what I've seen and read about them they are not exactly a good advertisement for Christianity! I'm glad so many people attended, just incase the Phelps did arrive. The last thing a grieving family need is to be met by them. The morning sounds like very powerful stuff, so sad as well. BTW I'm came here via Mak's blog.

Pete Aldin said...

Leaving the Phelps people aside, good for you and your faith communinity showing support for this young man and his family.

Dude, the moment when the young boy runs to his mom ... way to make me cry!