I found out just a few days ago that there was going to be an Armed Forces day parade. We pulled a float for it last year, so I called my boss to see if she wanted to do it again. We decided to go very simplistic this year and I put together a missing man table.
Now, a little back story. Last year we had two Vietnam vets that rode in the parade with us. One of them told Hubby that when he came home from the war, no one threw a parade. No one thanked him for his service. Instead, he was spit on. He was called a baby killer. He teared up and thanked us for including him. "This is my parade. " he said.
This man passed away yesterday morning. I asked his family if we could include his picture on the missing man table. They said yes, and I printed it up, framed it and placed in on the table.
His daughter came to us in tears before the parade and thanked us for including him. As the parade came to the courthouse and our float was announced, the whole parade just stopped. The family stood there on the sidewalk, holding each other, crying and paying homage to their father, grandfather and husband. His name and rank were announced along with a sincere thank you from the community.
Crash and a Marine friend of ours turned, saluted the flag and the family. Even the clouds parted and allowed the sun to shine through for the time we were stopped there.
When we were done, we kept everything in place so the family could get pictures. They thanked us again for doing this. Then his daughter told me that there wasn't going to be a funeral or a memorial service. This parade was the only thing that would be done to honor her father. Whoa. Talk about humbling.
They asked Marine if he would come to the house when his ashes arrived to help with the flag and give him a final salute. We were able to quickly organize a small family service with a flag ceremony, taps and the presenting of the flag to his widow. Crash will be a part of this.
I'm so honored to have been trusted with his final ride. At an event where he was finally thanked for his service and treated with the respect he deserved all along.
Rest in Peace.