Back in November I had the sobering experience of attending the funeral for Robert's grandparents, General Louis Conti of the Marine Corps and his wife, Dorothy Conti. It was a humbling hour at Arlington Cemetery as we followed a procession of two companies and a horse drawn carriage with a covered casket. The funeral was in the Old Forge Chapel and our whole family was there for it.
There was one particular moment that will forever be etched in my memory and that I pray Abigail will somehow remember as well. My two year old was acting up before the service began (as to be expected at 8:30am in a quite chapel with no toys). We had already offered her a snack and game but a tantrum was stirring. So I took her outside for a "breath of fresh air" before we both lost it in that sanctuary. What I didn't realize was what was about to take place. Just after we stepped out the front door, we noticed a company of guards, a full band and an honor guard all at full attention. A car pulled up and three guards pulled out two wood boxes (urns) and a folded flag. Here my words will begin to lack the dramatic reality of what took place when the captains announced specific commands, every officer turned, the band played and the entire company saluted the boxes as they were brought into the chapel. Abigail and I stood silently as we watched these men in the pouring rain perform for no one. You see every living soul was inside that chapel waiting for service to begin. These veterans responded in this way only out of HONOR for those who had gone before them. Watching this was a great reminder of the incredible sacrifice these people make for our freedom. After this sobering moment, we slipped back in (the side door) to attend the service and burial thereafter.
But this moment was a great reminder for me. More than just a realization and honor for our veterans, but also a challenge to honor those who have gone before me. Honor doesn't flaunt or boast or bring any attention to one's self, but rather humbly bows to those who have paved the way, paid the price and made the sacrifice that allow us to be where we are today. I am grateful for those who have planted the seeds, tilled the soil, and watered the ground upon which I now enjoy the fruit.
Thank you to each of you-- you know who you are-- and I pray you always know how very blessed and honored I feel to call you a mentor, father, or friend.
And a special thank you to General Conti, all those who serve in the armed forces, and all those families of those who have served. We honor you and pray that God will bless you for your faithful commitment to serve our country and provide us freedom.