Gazing ahead of the airmen conducting taps, I spotted a temporary tent covering a site for an unknown soldier. Only three people were in attendance-a preacher and two members of the cemetery staff.
I managed to come to attention and present a smart salute, until taps was over. I then walked over to the two young airmen and asked about the man, they had just honored.
“We don’t know his name,” Said one, “but he was in his nineties.” After a bit more prodding, I was able to find out that the man’s wife had died long ago, that they had no children and that he had outlived all his friends.
After taps, the two airman walked over to the casket, folded the flag and handed it to one of the officials. They then headed back towards the Chapel offices and I to the reception for my dad.
It struck me how both men-Veteran’s of WWII, were honored. One was my father, a successful businessman with a lot of friends and family. The Unknown Solider, I knew nothing about. He could have been as successful as my dad, or someone down and out. One funeral was well attended, the other not. Though one funeral, was bigger than the other, both men received the same military honors for their service, the same American Flag draped coffin, and a host of salutes, including one from a respectful stranger, who had just buried his veteran dad.
Air Force Honor Guard
U.S.A.F Photo Credit, Senior Airman Sean Adams