On Monday, April 9th, I officiated at the funeral service of James McNeill, a 94 year old disciple of St. Paul. James died on Easter Sunday after having come to worship with family, celebrated in worship with his St. Paul family, partook of the Lord’s Supper, was greeted warmly by many friends who were very pleased to see him, and died peacefully on the way home. During his life he had served in the United States Army for 23 years, fighting in numerous engagements of WWII beginning in North Africa. He loved his Lord, his country and his family and friends.
That said, I want to say just a few words about his burial at Fort Sam Houston cemetery. James deserved and received full military honors. It has been quite a few years since I have seen military honors conducted in such a manner. The young men and women that formed the flag/burial detail did so with the precision, dignity, respect, and honor it richly deserved. As taps (with a real trumpeter, not recorded) sounded and many of us placed our hands over our hearts, one could not help but feel a deep sense of pride in these soldiers and the sincere respect they displayed for their deceased comrade in arms of another generation and the flag that they all served honorable under.
I mention this because it was truly inspiring and uplifting when thinking of so many of our younger and not so young citizens who go to great lengths to disparage our nation and the flag that symbolizes our republic. I understand there are differences of opinion and points of view, but that should not cause us to dishonor our flag in any way. Yes, there have been terrible injustices done during our country’s history, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to re-write it or, worse, sponge clear from the slate of time the works of good men and women, who did some wrong things in their lives, by condemning them completely so that they are undeserving of recognition and respect. We are all guilty of sin, including these sanctimonious pillars of so-called political correctness and egotistical hypocrisy whose lives are no more perfect then those they would removed from history’s rich tapestry.
Maybe it would do them some good to see what real duty and service, honor and courage is all about by seeing a funeral with military rights. There is clearly an awareness of God’s preserve and blessing as respect is shown toward this nation He has blessed us with and the sacrifices made by those who have fought to protect and preserve it. A nice thought, but I wonder if it would make a difference. One could only hope and pray.
God bless you and God bless these United States and those who serve her.
Pastor Lee R. Harder