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Opening the Gates of Heaven

Posted By Blackfive • [May 27, 2005]

The words to "Taps" are:

Day Is Done,
Gone the Sun,
From the Earth,
From the Hill,
From the Sky,
All Is Well,
Safely Rest,
God Is Nigh

When Taps is played at dusk, it has a completely different meaning than when Taps is played during the day.  No soldier really wants to hear it played during daylight.  For when the bugle plays Taps in the daylight...that means a soldier has fallen...There is a belief among some that Taps is the clarion call to open the gates of heaven for the fallen warrior and letting them know to "Safely Rest"...

Of course, Memorial Day is about remembering the sacrifices that our military men and women have made over the last 229 years.    We are still a young nation, but one that has made many sacrifices to remain free.  We should also take time to remember the families who have lost loved ones.

I have focused on just a few of the fallen over the last few years.  I've lost three good friends during the War on Terror.  And I write about the others to ensure that we don't forget their sacrifices - I do that for me as much as for anybody.

I can't speak for the friends of the many others who have fallen, but for Mat, Cooter, and Mike, I can say this -

It's important to remember them, and it's just as important to enjoy yourself this weekend.  To spend time with your family and friends.  Have a beer while grilling Wisconsin brats (Schram-bo!) in the backyard while watching your kids play tag. 

What better assurance to them they did not die in vain?

Enjoying your freedom and understanding it's value is the best way to honor the sacrifices of my friends.

That's the way they'd want you to spend Memorial Day. 

Remembering them, and being a good dad and husband and an American is the best way that I can honor their memory.

If you feel that you should do more, you may want to take a look at one of my favorite organizations - the Special Operations Warrior Foundation - which helps care for the families of Special Operation soldiers who have died in the line of duty (combat, training, etc.).  Primarily providing for educational needs, SOWF also provides financial assistance in the form of grants for families.

If you would like to do more, click here for information on Caring for the Defenders.
 

I'll close with this heartfelt letter, written by Rick Kennedy, that I received via Seamus about Taylor Prazynski - a Marine who recently was buried at Arlington.

On Saturday morning May 21st I flew to Washington, D.C to meet my daughter Mary with grandchildren Calista and Lindsey, and her husband Joe Teller to drive with them to Chesterfield Virginia to attend a ballet recital for Callie that evening. Joe and Mary were in Washington for the burial services of Lance Corporal Taylor Prazynski USMC the 20 year old son of Joe’s cousin John Prazynski. Taylor was killed by enemy fire in Fallujah on May 9th while serving in combat with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Regiment, and 2nd Marine Division. Mary and Joe, along with 50 other family members attended the burial service for Taylor on Friday at Arlington National Cemetery, and when I met them they remained emotionally overwhelmed and forever moved by the elegant display of military reverence, and efficiency at Arlington. They were deeply saddened by the loss of this young Marine.

Earlier in the week Taylor’s body arrived at the Greater Cincinnati Airport by commercial jet. All passengers were instructed to remain on the plane until Taylor’s body was removed by a contingent of Marines. A military helicopter followed the Marine vehicle as it motored to the funeral parlor. Police and fire trucks were stationed at the overpasses and along the highway and saluted at Taylor passed by. At the funeral parlor no civilian was allowed to touch the body. The Marines prepared the deceased...A Marine color guard followed by a rider less horse accompanied Taylor’s body down Ohio Highway 4 for funeral services at Fairfield High School gym. Over 1500 people were in attendance of the funeral service at the school where the young Marine graduated in 2003, and played football and ran track. Pastor Dave Workman of the Vineyard Community Church presided. He gave a sterling tribute to this fallen hero that gave his life to his country. The pastor praised Taylor for his work with the church’s youth group, and his volunteer work with a multiple-disabilities class while in high school.

At Arlington on May 20th, the seven pall bearers dressed resplendent in the Marine dress blues uniform marched with the flag draped casket with military precision. When they reached the gravesite they abruptly raised the casket above their shoulders for 30 long seconds, giving the fallen Marine salute, and then rested the casket on its conveyor belt support over the grave. The military chaplain in civilian clothes gave the last rites, and presented the family Taylor’s posthumously awarded Purple Heart Medal.

All seven Marines removed the American Flag from the casket. They raised the stars and stripes above the casket pulling the flag rigid like a drum. Then they tightly folded the flag step by step in a triangle with the ends tucked firmly in place. One of the Marines did an about face and presented the flag to the Marine Sergeant standing alone to the rear of the casket, and saluted the flag.. The Marine in charge carrying the flag proceeded to the seat of the father John Prazynski. The Marine knelt down and bowed his head and presented the flag to the grieving father as the final gesture of sympathy and appreciation by the United States Marine Corps for the brave service of this young Marine.

Seven Marines standing away from the proceedings fired their rifles in three volleys representing a 21 gun salute, and you could hear muffled screams of sorrow from the youth in attendance as a lone bugler in Marine dress blues played the sad haunting sound of “Taps’ that echoed across the green rolling plains of Arlington on to the endless stream of white stones in this section called” Iraqi Freedom”. This was the Marines way of sending a signal to God to open the gates of Heaven for the arrival of [Corporal] Prazynski who gave his life for his country and our fight against terror throughout the world.

Remember Them.  And have a great Memorial Day.


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