So, I'm here in Lafayette for a funeral.
Let me back up. For the longest time, Ryan and I have had all our grandparents...and for me, that included an "extra" set. My mom's parents divorced and remarried -- but, for all my life, I just had 3 sets of grandparents - didn't know it any other way. Just telling you this for background.
I lost my very special Popaw on September 11, 2007.
And last Saturday, the man I always just called "Red" died. He's my mom's step-dad. He lived in California most of my life. So, I wasn't terribly close to him. My best memories are of talking to him and Grandma on the phone as a kid -- and having him always ask me "You been kissin' dem boys! I know you been kissin' boys!" (Didn't matter if I was 8 or 18.)
So anyway, I've come home for his funeral...and was doing pretty good. Then we get to the cemetery, and outside the mausoleum is a group of men -- old men -- in their American legion uniforms, waiting to salute Red as he's brought in. I am so touched by these older men ... standing in the cold ... waiting to salute this fellow soldier.
Then, we go into the mausoleum, and then back of it is just glass - a big window where you can see out into a pretty grassy area ... and there's men standing there. Again. old American Legion men, in uniform and in formation - - all holding rifles or flags.
And then, one of those men who is on the inside with us, begins a formal flag presentation to Grandma Jane. And it wasn't whispered, like you see in the movies. He talks about a grateful nation, and other patriotic things that have my throat constricting and head pounding, and then hands over the flag on "behalf of the US Government." Wow. You can NOT not cry after seeing that. Then, those men, outside -- still standing proud, but for pete's sake, none younger than 60 standing in the COLD ... gave Red a 5 gun salute.
While I was so proud of those men, and the nation and brotherhood they all stood for -- I couldn't help but wonder ... these men are the last of their generation. Who's going to do this when they're gone?