The Veteran's Cemetery in Santa Fe is beautiful, with well-kept grounds and a spectacular view of the mountains. The Veterans' Affairs staff there is helpful beyond belief. But most impressive of all was the Honor Guard.
This must be a tough duty, spending all day, every day welcoming home fallen veterans. It must take a special sort of personality to be continually surrounded by grieving families, and to take that grief as an inspiration to perfect the ceremony. The respect they showed - especially to Mom - was very moving.
It's strange, but after months leading up to Dad's death, and three weeks now to process the emotions, that I wasn't ready for the emotions that washed over me when the guard slow-saluted Mom, and then knelt down to present her the flag.
This flag is presented on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for your loved one's honorable and faithful service.
The Honor Guard has a hard duty, and one that may seem unimportant. After all, it's just one more old man leaving his grieving family behind. The kindness and respect they devoted speaks volumes of them, and the Republic.
This is the final test of a gentleman: his respect for those who can be of no possible service to him.
- William Lyon Phelps