Gold Star Dad

The thoughts of a father who has lost a son to war

The Division Says Goodbye:

Posted by fozzynok on 08/11/2009

We got an invitation to travel back to Ft Campbell to attend the Eagle Remembrance Ceremony. This is a Ceremony that the division holds every few months to remember, honor and say goodbye to the members of the various units in the division. My son’s best friend who was in country when Micheal was killed came along with us for the trip. We arrived at Ft Campbell and were greeted at the gate by a couple of men from my son’s unit. Both of them knew my son, one of them was the trooper who escorted my son home to us. We dropped our car off at the hotel and were shown around the base for a while and then went to the home of one of the senior NCO’s home for dinner. That was pretty scary actually.  I found myself to be a bit self-conscious about going into a family’s home who still have their family member in the same place that we lost our son. There were wives of other deployed soldiers there also. I definitely did not want to be the reminder of the almost constant strain that these wives and children worry about every second of every day.

The next day was the Eagle Remembrance ceremony we got to the Division Headquarters building and was shown around and given the red carpet treatment by all of the fine people we met. We were escorted into the Division Commanders office and met with the Division’s Executive Officer. A very tall bald headed man with the presence that was even larger than he was. He greeted us all personally and gave us all a rundown of the things that were going to happen at the ceremony. We were there with other gold star families and one young wife was there with her two children. They of course were graphic reminders that we lose more than sons in far off hostile shores. She was talking to the Lt Col about the process she was going through and how they had to leave the base housing and move off post. She explained that she had to find schools for her two kids who have only known the schools that were on post. The XO just flatly told her that her children would never be tossed out of the base schools and he would see to it personally that they were welcomed at the school. The relief was clear on the mother’s face that this was one fewer worry to have to face in the loss of her husband and her children’s lives.

The XO was explaining what was going to happen and he got to the part where he told us that a bagpiper was there and was going to play for the ceremony. At that instant my wife and I looked at each other and she and I knew I was in for a tough ride at this one. We left the office and toured a little more and met with the escorts and went to the main lobby of the headquarters building. It was a huge place with art and sculptures around the halls. There were guest books to sign for the fallen soldiers arranged on tables under large pictures of each of the men. They all looked so young and as if they were almost the same person in each photo. All of them looked so full of life and their spirits were there with us all.

It was time to gather for the ceremony. There were roses on each chair to be placed on the “battle Cross that was up in front of the assembly. (The battle cross in the helmet, rifle and boots set up that people are familiar with) The rest of the division was in formation right there behind the arranged chairs for the guests. There were a few speakers, the twenty-one-gun salute, the playing of Taps and then the worst part for me, the bag piper started the playing the song “Amazing Grace”.  The song has a lot of history and I have no idea why it affects me so, but I just could not stop the tears from flowing no matter how I tried. The escort with me handed me his handkerchief and it made me feel even worse. I know.. it’s not rational to feel embarrassed, but I’m odd like that. Thankfully the song was over and we were asked to take our seats. Then the names of the fallen were announced and each of the family members would rise, move to the battle cross, place the flowers there and then walked to the rear of the formation. This was pretty tough with all of those people there. We were all there to honor each other’s loved ones as well as our own.  The ceremony ended and we spent some time with my son’s unit a little more and then it was time to say good-bye to them. We wished them all well and stay in touch with them to this day.

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