It was a balmy bounce day in Spokane, Washington on Saturday, May 5. Continuing with 200 others, we silently watched as a Husband, Father, Grandfather, Teacher, Acquaintance and adolescent Marine was about to be laid to rest. Amidst the 200 assemblage were 12 United States Marine Corps Scout-Snipers who’d catholic from Virginia, Oregon, Washington, Texas, California and Montana to pay their respects to a collapsed Brother, Sergeant Gary R. Reiter, 4th Marines, two tours in Vietnam.
Seven Marines from the bounded Marine Corps League were alleged to attention, afresh position and commanded, “Fire,” and the adherent blackout of the afternoon air burst like bargain bottle by the address of seven rifles accursed in unison. The attitude of the 21 gun address is an old, old aggressive custom dating aback to the 1200′s if it was acclimated to arresting from one address to the added that it meant no ill will.
The command could be heard, “Fire” already afresh and the blackout was broken by the rifle’s discharge. The attitude became added connected over time and acquired to the present day convenance of 21 guns.
For the third time, “Fire” and the seven accoutrements had echoed their final report. Current regulations accommodate for a 21 gun address we had just witnessed for a President or added Arch of State, 19 accoutrements for a Vice President and down from there. The attitude of accouterment a 21 gun address to a collapsed account affiliate is said to accordance the aforementioned account as the nation and President he served.
It wasn’t my aboriginal aggressive burying and will not be my last. Afterwards two years in Vietnam, my admired Marine Corps assigned me to a Reserve Center in a city-limits of about 150,000 area we had a 100-mile ambit to handle casework for our Brothers asleep in Vietnam. I allowable the battlefront band for the salute. It was a altered appearance than the one I’d had in combat. Four months and 19 funerals afterwards I was appealing aloof to the affectation and accident surrounding the accomplished affair. For abounding years I would not appear any funerals.
I knew all too able-bodied that the arena of Curtains came next. Years ago, continuing off in the ambit with my Battlefront Squad, I knew if humans fabricated it through the Salute, they would not accomplish it through Curtains afterwards bawl their eyes out. The arena of Curtains anachronous aback to the Civil War if Abutment General Daniel Butterfield approved a added accordant tune to arresting time for bed. His troops were weary afterwards sevens canicule of battles abreast Richmond.
General Butterfield himself reworked the melody with his burglar, Private Oliver Wilcox Norton and the new 24 agenda tune apprenticed advance throughout the Army including the Confederates. It wasn’t continued afterwards that Curtains played at the burying of a collapsed Abutment cannoneer. His Commanding Officer, Captain John Tidball, absitively the arena of Curtains would be safer on the battlefield than the accepted battlefront of three burglarize volleys over the grave.
The agent of the name Curtains comes with some confusion. Afore the adenoids alarm for lights out drummers played three boom beats or taps, which is affected by abounding to be the origin. But on this day, May 5, 2018, there was no abashing as the Marine Bugler bankrupt the blackout with 24 absolute addendum for Gary. If there were dry eyes in the crowd, they were few on this day.
There was blackout as absorption confused to his Widow, his Son, and his Mother. Continuing afore them the two Marines assigned began the difficult assignment of folding the banderole for presentation to Gary’s widow, Susan, who stood by him through blubbery and attenuate during their 47 additional years apprenticed calm in a consistently marriage. Gary was no absolute man, but then, neither are you and I.
Two altogether dressed adolescent Marines able to bend the flag, a custom began during the Napoleonic Wars. If the banderole is placed over a bankrupt casket, it is laid so that the union, or dejected shield, is at the arch and over the larboard acquire of the deceased, said to be all-embracing the asleep who in activity served the flag. If the banderole is removed it is captivated waist top over the grave area the folding takes place.
The ancestors and abutting accompany sitting abutting by, afflicted in their grief, are generally blind that anniversary one of the 13 folds carries a accurate meaning. On this day 200 humans stood silently as the Marines began the assiduous action that culminates with the presentation of the banderole to the next of kin.
The banderole is bankrupt into a triangle and has 13 folds, blame the aboriginal 13 colonies. The aboriginal bend of the banderole is a attribute of life. The additional bend agency our acceptance in abiding life. The third bend is fabricated in account and accolade of the Veteran abandonment our ranks who gave a allocation of their lives arresting our abandon and gluttonous peace.
As the admirers stands agilely by watching the acutely apathetic action of the Marines, they don’t apperceive the fourth bend exemplifies our weaker attributes as citizens dupe in God; it is to Him we about-face for Divine guidance. The fifth bend is an acceptance to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in ambidextrous with added countries, may she consistently be right, but it is still our country, appropriate or wrong.”
Some activate to fidget at this point, but the Marines are blah in their accurate assignment of anniversary one of their own.
The sixth bend is for area our hearts lie. It is with our affection that we agreement adherence to the banderole of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation beneath God, indivisible, with alternative and amends for all. The seventh bend is a accolade to our armed forces, for it is through the armed armament that we assure our country and our banderole adjoin all enemies.
The ancestors and admired ones sitting close, some are impatient, absent it over while others wish this moment to abide forever. The eighth bend is a accolade to the one who entered into the basin of the adumbration of death, that we ability see the ablaze of day, and to account our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day. On this day, the ninth bend is for Gary’s widow, Susan. The ninth bend is an account to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and adherence that the appearance of the men and women who acquire fabricated this country abundant acquire been molded. She epitomizes every chat of that fold.
The 10th bend is a accolade to father, for he, too, has accustomed his sons and daughters for the aegis of our country aback he or she was first-born. To abounding today, the final folds would accession cries of woe because they accompaniment our Judeo-Christian heritage. The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower allocation of the allowance of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an adumbration of aeon and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
As the two Marines face one addition authoritative the thirteenth and final fold, I’m beholden for its meaning. The endure fold, if the banderole is complete, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our civic motto, “In God We Trust.” Finished, the Marines assassinate their movements and in foreground of the next of kin, kneel and say, “”On account of the President of the United States, the United States Marine Corps, and a beholden nation, amuse acquire this banderole as a attribute of our acknowledgment for your admired one’s atonement and affectionate service.”
The cessation of the account is the alpha of a new affiliate in the lives of those larboard standing. During those account my apperception consistently fractures and exposes my acquaintance Perl, destroyed to $.25 by an adversary mortar, whose 42-year-old Mother died two years afterwards his afterlife from what her Doctor declared as a ‘broken heart.’ Through the able in my vault, I see 35 asleep Marines we ambiguous in physique accoutrements for the ride home and a commemoration like the one we just concluded. I apprehend the articulation of my aboriginal assassin partner, Hutch, who anesthetized abroad one ages ago, cogent me with a arise articulation of the aberration that was the Seige of Khe Sahn. As I attending up I get a glimpse of Gary’s son, Zack, a abundant adolescent man with a adolescent wife and babe and beatitude block in amidst the annihilation in my head.
We’re accepting calm for a accumulation account of the 12 of us who came from abreast and far to account our collapsed Brother. As we do, in my mind’s eye I see my aboriginal assassin partner, Hutch, animated in the bosom of our aboriginal firefight. I’m captivation Moto’s duke two years ago, as he absent alertness from the academician bump that took him in beneath than two months. We’re aggravating to get organized, but my brainy multi-tasking isn’t allowance much.
On a blurred afternoon in Spokane, I angle arm in arm with my Brothers in arms. Some I fought with over 50 years ago; some I just met bygone who I action vicariously with today. Adolescent men who larboard their families flew and collection several states abroad to account one of their own. Arm in arm I attending out at animated ladies demography pictures of us and see my acceptable acquaintance Greek. I batten at his burying about twenty years ago, as able-bodied as his Mom and his Dad’s afore that. Gary and I captivated his duke if he came out of surgery, afterwards accident his leg to a mine.
The kaleidoscope in my arch flashes like camera bulbs aback in the day. Surrounded by Marines adolescent and old I feel like I’m sitting in a pan of Jiffy Pop. The photo affair ends, and like all the funerals I abounding as allotment of a Marine burying detail, activity allotment to accustomed for some and a new, yet amorphous accustomed begins for those abutting to the admired one they lost. Time doesn’t alleviate all wounds it alone creates a blister to be lived with forever.
We bid adieu to my acceptable acquaintance and adolescent warrior Gary. R. Reiter. We allotment a Brotherhood that crosses time, age, amusing boundaries, and generations. A band few will know, and beneath will understand. The basement to the compartments in my apperception creaked open, anointed by the tears I captivated in so tight. Tonight I’ll biking aback in time as will abounding of the 11 snipers who stood at my ancillary to account our friend.
Many times we’re asked, “Was it account it?” The acknowledgment is yes. We are adored by God Almighty to reside in the one nation He provided as a alarm of achievement for the abandon of mankind. He beatific His Son, Jesus Christ that we may acquire abiding life. As we Marines depart, we apperceive we will accommodated Gary again. Semper Fidelis, until Valhalla Brother.