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On Behalf of a Grateful Granddaughter

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Note: Not my usual geeky/goofy fare today; just something I've been working on for a while and wanted to share. I hope you enjoy.




We drove an hour north to climb into a big, beautiful limo.


I hadn't been in one since my wedding. Some of the others had never been in one.

It had a mirrored ceiling and colorful cocktail napkins tucked into champagne glasses, all lined up, waiting for next prom season.

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There were even crystal bourbon decanters, but they were empty. (I checked.)

During the next hour's drive, we all laughed quite a lot.

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And we talked even more.

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I wish I could say everything seemed so much more alive, more meaningful, when we drove through the gates. But really, I just thought it was a pretty drive.

We wound through shaded roads and moss-dripping trees, and then everyone told me to turn around and take a picture of these men on the side of the road:

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I began snapping pictures through the glass.

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Then the car stopped, and I realized they were there for us.

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Deeply embarrassed, I put the camera down and was handed out of the car.


We sat on tiny stone benches under a small gazebo across the road. There a man who'd never met you told us things about your life I never knew. He also read a prayer, and called you "brother."


I didn't take any pictures of that.


The men-at-attention stood that way while we sat. If I turned my head I could just see them, there in the sun. It was about 90 degrees, and so thick we drank the air.


The man warned us it would be loud, but I didn't cover my ears. I covered my eyes, and took as many pictures as I could.

One even caught the puff of smoke from their rifles:

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I wished the cars weren't there.

I wish I knew enough about PhotoShop to take them out.


Then the man on the right began to play, and the first notes were so pure, so piercing, that the thick air turned to crystal.

Or maybe I just forgot to breathe.

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I stood at the edge of the gazebo, one foot in the grass, and watched through my sunglasses. (I was glad for those sunglasses.) The silence that followed was like the awkward pause at a dinner party.

The few of us who'd stood shuffled back to our seats.


I'd been asked to take pictures for the family, but the click-click-clicking seemed so tacky, so loud. I was embarrassed. Still, I couldn't miss the flag:

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And when the shaking old veteran began, "On behalf of a grateful nation..." I risked a shot of that, too. Because I had to.

I had to.

I hope they understood.

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I don't remember it being this clear.

I think...maybe that's why I need these pictures.


Then it was over, the strings of formality cut, and I could click away with impunity.

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June, watching with gentle sympathy, Mom, smiling through tears, Uncle Russ stoic, and Grandma somehow more radiant than I've ever seen her.


A few more silent pictures, and Grandma and I walked across the road.


I tried to thank the man with the trumpet, but my voice failed me, and I couldn't see if he'd heard. They all stood staring straight ahead, waiting.

I wondered how many tearful granddaughters they'd seen that day.

Grandma planted herself at a distance, like a proud commander, and thanked them all. Then she handed me her cane, and the man called an order, and I took this picture:

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We were never close, you and I. You were gruff, and I was sensitive. I never tried to know you better.

I never knew you were a baker.

But I'm glad I got to say goodbye.

These men - these soldiers - never knew you at all. Still, they honored you, and they honored us. They are still sacrificing for their country, in the 90 degree heat and the drinkable air.

And this granddaughter, at least, is so very grateful.


Grandpa Service 2

Charles R. Christensen, 1/27/28 - 6/14/11


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Update: I've since had several people send me revised versions of my photo with the cars removed. I'm overwhelmed and humbled by your generosity, and I want to thank you all for helping me make a beautiful keepsake for my family. I can't wait to show it to my grandmother in the photobook I'm designing - so thank you all. Truly.

Posted by Jen at 2:19 PM Labels:

213 comments:

  1. From one grateful granddaughter to another, thank you for sharing that. It was profoundly moving.

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  2. This is beautiful, and I know exactly how you feel. My condolences to you.

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  3. Wow, Jen. I'm sitting here trying not to cry at this post. We buried my dad almost two months ago, and he had a military funeral as well. The gun salute wasn't there, but we had the flag, and the bugle. We also had "Freedom Riders" there for him. He wasn't that old, only 58, but had fought in Vietnam. I wish we'd had someone there to take pictures of the funeral like this, so that we'd be able to remember it all. Especially when my 10 year old daughter went up after all was done and placed a single red rose on the top of the coffin. Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures with all of us. *hugs*

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  4. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful ceremony and for the tears that ran down my face. Between a father who served in the army for twenty years and losing my grandmother just over a year ago, this really touched me. It was simply beautiful. Again, thank you.

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  5. What a lovely tribute. Your words brought tears to my eyes, remembering my own grandfather. I am very sorry for your loss.

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  6. What a really beautiful post. It brought me to tears. I'm sorry for the loss of your grandfather. But thank you for his service to our country.

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  7. That's Bushnell National Cemetery, is it not? My uncle was buried there in the spring, and it was indeed a beautiful ceremony, very moving. The veterans who led the ceremony showed such respect and caring. My condolences.

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  8. Huge (((hugs))). My grandfather had a military funeral as well and your post brought tears to my eyes. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  9. Yes, I believe that's it, dijim. I'd never been to that part of the state before, but it's really gorgeous. Parts of it reminded me of Arlington in DC.

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  10. From a grateful granddaughter, daughter, sister, and lover this was BEAUTIFUL. Thank you Jen for sharing this.

    I am sitting here in tears at how incredibly beautiful that was.

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  11. That was a wonderful post, Jen. So beautifully done that I have tears in my eyes. I'm so sorry for your family's loss.

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  12. I am so very sorry for your loss.

    I did the same thing with my grandfather a year ago, except I took video for my brother who couldn't be there. One of the hardest things I have ever done.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kusine/4866642333/

    You can see the camera flinch at the first shot; it scared me, too!

    Did they collect the brass and give it to you? They did for us.

    You are in my thoughts, though I can see you have a wonderful family to help you through.

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  13. Beautifully written, thank you for sharing. I know your family will treasure these photos.

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  14. This brought tears to my eyes as well. A couple of weeks ago, we attended the funeral of my sister in law's father. He too had military honors. The gravitas that those rituals added -- the silent, stop still precision of each step of the flag folding, the crack of the rifles, and the slow playing of Taps caught the heart in a way words never could. Our sympathies for your loss.

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  15. Having watched that ceremony as a granddaughter, knowing some day I'll watch it as a daughter and as a widow. It touches me every time. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  16. Jen, this is a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. I'm sorry for your loss and my condolences and prayers are to you and your family.

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  17. Just beautiful. Thank You for sharing it.

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  18. Thank you for sharing this. My former Marine grandfather was honored with a similar ceremony earlier this year. I wasn't able to attend and not many who did took pictures. Because of the way you wrote this, I was easily able to picture it being for him and my family being there. Thank you. :*)

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  19. Jen, my grandfather died last week, and I've been in tears off and on since. I'm so glad you shared these pictures. I took a few, but now I wish I had done more. We also had a bugler - he was hidden behind a memorial stone until it was time for taps. He appeared out of nowhere and played such a beautiful farewell for us.

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  20. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful, heartfelt moment in time with all of us. I'm so sorry for your family's loss

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  21. Wonderful post. Truly beautiful. Sorry for your loss.

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  22. I'm sorry for your loss. That was a beautiful tribute.

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  23. That was so beautiful, Jen. And I am indisputably crying. Now where are my sunglasses?

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  24. I wish I had more glorious words to express what I'm feeling. But 'Thank you' will have to do.

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  25. @ Jessica - No, they didn't, but that's beautiful that some places do.

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  26. So beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your memories.

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  27. Hugs and thanks for this. I have been working on my own tribute to my dad (who died 30 yrs ago on Aug 16), so my tears were already flowing, but now they pour down my face.
    As your grandfather, my dad was a Veteran. Proud US citizens, as we all should be.
    Beckie in Brentwood, TN

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  28. Such a beautiful tribute. I had to take my laptop to another room so my son wouldn't see me crying. It reminded me of my Father in law's ceremony.

    My husband and son are both in Boy Scouts. When the Scouts do a flag burning ceremony (the flag is worn out and not fit to fly anymore), the grommets are retrieved from the ashes and given to someone as a sign of deep respect. Since my father in law was very active in Scouts as well, we had one of the grommets placed on his (military designation) tombstone - a fitting tribute to a wonderful man.

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  29. Thank you so much for sharing. That was beautiful.

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  30. My grandfather had a military funeral in 2007. It was one of the most moving experiences I've had. Thank you so much for sharing this post. I am very sorry for your loss.

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  31. This is very beautiful, and you have my deepest sympathies.

    One of my grandfathers was in the military during WWII. I never knew him, he died in my dad's teens. His sister has told me stories of him, and his headstone does mention he was a vet.
    My other grandfather couldn't serve in the military because of his health, but as a teen he went out west and worked with the CCC and helped to build our country up in a difficult time. Him I knew, but he died many years ago.
    This post made me grateful that I had my grandpa in my life, and that both he and my other grandfather each served the country in their own way.

    Now, pass the Kleenex, will you?

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  32. I think I got something in my eye.

    We buried my grandfather with similar honors nearly four years ago. I've always choked up at Taps, but it's even worse now that I've heard it played for him.

    Thank you for this post.

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  33. I don't think a blog entry has ever made me burst into tears. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Sending over major hugs.

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  34. I am so sorry for your family's loss. But thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute with us.

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  35. Beautifully said. Brought tears to my eyes. I felt the exact same way in the limo to my Dad's and my Grandfather's funerals. My condolences to you and your family.

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  36. I have just been given my grandfather's military memorabilia from when he was in Normandy during WWII.
    He died when my mom was 2.
    We both wish we had known him, and we wonder whether he had a proper military service.
    My grandmother died when my mom was 19, so we can't ask her.
    Seeing this makes me sad that I never knew him, and proud of the service he gave.

    Thank you.

    (and I feel the same way about pictures during things like this. Luckily my camera is small and silent)

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  37. One of the most beautifully written things I have ever read, and that is saying something.
    Tears, Jen. Thank you so much for sharing this. I'm glad you could take pictures and show us the pride.

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  38. God bless you, your gran, and those wonderful men.

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  39. Thank you for sharing that. I am so sorry for your loss. It was touching, beautiful, and sad.

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  40. This is beautiful, Jen. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  41. I'm sitting in my office at work bawling my eyes out after reading that post. Thank you for sharing, it was beautiful.

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  42. Sending lots of love your way...

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  43. My face is dripping tears. What a wonderful tribute to your grandfather. I have realized in the last few years that I didn't really know my grandparents, either. So I understand. c: Thank you for sharing, sweetie!

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  44. Thank you for sharing! Minus the limo, my grandfather's recent funeral was very similar and I didn't have a clear enough head to take photos. Your pics here will become mybookmark.

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  45. Beautiful tribute. Both my grandfathers had military funerals, one in 1992, one in 2002. I wasn't old enough to really appreciate the ceremony either time, so thank you for sharing your experience.

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  46. I'm sorry for your family's loss. I remember a service very like this one for my Great Aunt who served in WWII. (Yes, a woman in WWII. How cool is that?)

    It was the most beautiful ceremony I've ever attended. So formal, but absolutely fitting. The gun salute was indeed loud, so loud it's impossible to forget. I think that's the real reason they do it, if you ask me. The emotional impact.

    What really got me, though, was the folding of the flag. The young men who had never known or seen my aunt, folding her flag with so much reverence and care it was painful to watch.

    Again, my deepest condolences to you and your family, and my deepest gratitude to your late grandfather.

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  47. This moved me to tears Jen. Such a beautiful and moving tribute. I was out of state when my grandfather died and missed being there for his funeral. This took me back and made me feel like I was there.

    I bawled when the guns went off at my FIL's funeral and I remember being shocked at the sheer volume of the noise.

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  48. I knew I shouldn't have started reading that, now I need to dry my keyboard...
    I know that's how I'll feel when My Grandpa passes.

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  49. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I'm so, so sorry for your loss.

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  50. That was a wonderful post.

    My stepfather passed in 2004 (my mom had passed in 2001). He had served in the Navy and was actually stationed in Hawaii on that fateful day so many years ago.

    Dad had a military funeral, too. We drove to somewhere in central NJ (at least west of were we lived on the shore) where is was hilly and had tons of trees. The cemetery was beautiful. The service was as moving as you tell it.

    My condolences on your family's loss.

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  51. I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes. Such powerful words, such powerful images. My condolences to you and your family, Jen. Thank you for sharing.

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  52. What a beautiful post - you've made your grandfather proud. Thank you for sharing it with us.

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  53. *hugs*
    My father, in Berlin when the wall went up, was buried almost a full year ago. We didn't have the full military funeral. I rather wish we had. As it is, we have a lovely tombstone, courtesy of the US Army. It reads "Vietnam." And that makes me laugh.

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  54. Beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing.
    Peace.

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  55. Jen,
    Thank you for sharing such a depply personal event in your life. I have managed to dry the tears long enough to comment. I know you said that the two of you were not close. I also know that that does not lessen the sense of loss when you lose a grandparent. My condolences to you and your family. Your post, although about a very sad occassion, did stir some fond memories about my own grandfather, a Navy man. Seeing the elderly group of military men reminded me of summer vacations spent with my grandparents attending his annual Navy reunion. These men were truly heroes.
    Again, thank you.

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  56. This was beautifully written. I'm very sorry for your loss, and I'm glad you have such a wonderful family to be with right now.

    I didn't know one grandfather, and I barely remember the other. I can only imagine how hard it must have been for you to take those shots, and write this post.

    Now if it's all right, I think I've got something in my eye after all that.

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  57. What a beautiful post. I lost my grand father this summer as well. My sincere condolences, I understand what you are feeling right now. He died while I was in Europe, and my grand mother did not want to call us. We came back to this terrible news, my father was devasted. I have spent nearly everyday with my grand mother since the 23rd of july. It was hard spending all of my days in their house, I had the feeling he would come out of his study with a new article or project to talk to me about. I am very grateful to have know him for 16 years and have so many wonderful memories with him (most of them in Florida :) ). It is a wonderful tribute you have done to your grand father.

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  58. that was a touching and beautiful tribute. thank you for taking the courage to share with you online "family"

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  59. Beautiful. Your grandfather (whom I did not know) is my hero. God bless him and may he know eternal peace.

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  60. I am sorry for your loss, but so thankful you shared this with us.

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  61. Jen, you have my sympathies. My grandfather passed this June. I took photos from the rosary/wake through the burial. He received full military honors and an honor guard service from the fire department. We're so grateful for the photos because my grandmother is in the early stages of dementia. She forgets and thinks she wasn't there. It was strange to take them but the photos help to show her she was there.

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  62. thanks for sharing this, although making me teary I really appreciated it. reminded me a lot of my stepfather's funeral who served in the Canadian military and the members of the legion who came and made a service one evening at the funeral home. I'd never witnessed anything like that before and I was humbled and proud. These men never knew him long because he'd only moved to the area recently, but they came to honour him and the family. so sweet. thank you again.

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  63. My grandson/son (we took him from an abusive mother) is in Afghanistan right now and I relate to your post. It was moving and beautiful.

    I am an artist and use my Paint Shop Pro a lot. I have taken out the cars in that photo and would like to email yo the corrected photo.

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  64. My grandparents are both buried at Bushnell and we had the same ceremony for my grandfather. To this day hearing Taps makes me choke up thinking of that day. It brings me peace that they were both buried in such a beautiful place and I hope it does for your familiy too.

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  65. In tears after your lovely tribute. I lost my gruff distant soldier grandpa almost a year ago. Thank you for sharing.

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  66. That was a beautiful tribute and very moving. I hope you have the opportunity to get to know your grandfather more through your grandmother.

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  67. So very, very beautiful. Thank you so much, Jen, for sharing this touching tribute to your grandfather.

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  68. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing with us. Your touching tribute brought tears to my eyes.

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  69. That was simply beautiful. What a wonderful tribute.

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  70. Tearing up a little bit. Thank you for sharing that private moment with us.

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  71. Aw Jen, I'm so sorry for your loss. This reminds me so much of my own grandfather's funeral. My heart aches for you. For both of us. ((HUGS))

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  72. Thank you, Jen. Tearfully remembering my father's very similar ceremony.

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  73. i think your grandfather is extremely grateful for the beautiful, wise woman you have become. thank you for sharing a part of your soul with us. may God grant him eternal rest, and may he rise in glory.

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  74. My grandpa died a year ago, and he had a military funeral at the national cemetery in MA. Thank you for sharing what I know from experience is a heart-wrenching day of your life. I was fairly close to my grandpa, but I too learned so much about him after his death that I wish I had known when he was still alive and able to communicate. (Parkinson's disease robbed him and us of his last 5 years or so, and my grandma, though still alive, has been trapped by Alzheimer's for even longer.)

    By the way, we also went in a prom limo (pale blue!).

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  75. Thank you for this post. I went through something similar last month, only they were laying both my grandfather and grandmother to rest (they passed away 5 months apart) in the local national cemetery. The guns made my 7 month old jump, and while the bugler played taps, I felt the peace of my grandfather at rest. He actually served in one of the veterans' groups that presides over the funerals until he got sick.

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  76. Thank you for sharing an important day with us. Thank you also for demonstrating such respect for the honors of a military funeral.

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  77. Just beautiful. I remember feeling exactly as you described as I watched my grandfather's funeral in 2007. Watching these men who'd never met him honoring him, his service and his family.
    Thank you for sharing.

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  78. Jen, I'm sending you huge virtual ((HUGS)). My uncle died suddenly two years ago; because of his Navy service, they did a gun salute and "Taps" was played. It's such a forlorn and powerful song. My grandfather who was in the Army died in the 1990s but I still remember the elderly gentlemen who carried out their respectful duties.

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  79. That was beautiful, Jen. My grandfather died in the Pacific during WWII. I'm working on an album of him (pictures, letters, things my mom remembers). It's a way for me to get to know him.

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  80. Not a lot of things bring tears to my eyes. You've brought them: both happy and sad. You are a great writer. Thank you for sharing both laughter and pain.

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  81. Jen
    My grandfather died and was buried on July 5th of this year. The Honor Guard was there for him and I like you I took pictures. It did seem rude to click-click-clickety click but I am so very glad I did. I have something to show his great grandkids. I was moved to tears watching the men fold the flag and the speach...oh my the speach. It was awesome.

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  82. So sad yet so beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

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  83. Lovely, just lovely. I'd like to share a poem that my uncle wrote about his father, my grandfather. I never got to know him; neither did my mom.
    http://poemsbymdailey.blogspot.com/2010/05/little-hill-in-arlington.html
    Always makes me cry.

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  84. I cried for nearly ten minutes when I read this. Thank you, thank you.

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  85. Jen, thank you for posting this. My grandfather passed away just under a year ago, and in many ways, you have said what I have been unable to. Thank you for sharing this. My condolences to you, but again, thank you for sharing.

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  86. From the daughter of a Korean War vet, and a veteran myself....what a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. Thank you for sharing. My condolences to you and your family

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  87. My grandfather was laid to rest with military honors on Memorial Day. The newspaper came to photograph the funeral for their Sunday edition.

    You worried about the loudness of the camera- but it truly did not register for me even when the camera was right next to me to take photos of my mother accepting the flag. I only heard the people speaking and the trumpet and, of course, the shots fired. I cherish the pictures because the memory is so blurred with tears.

    He was the third grandfather (two of mine, one of my husband's) to be laid to rest in a military cemetery in the last year and it's the only one of those that I can remember clearly- the pictures are a godsend. As was not having to be the one to take them.

    Thank you for sharing.

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  88. My older brother served a year's tour in Iraq with the United States Marine Corps. He left two little children and a wife behind him, not to mention me and our family, friends, and a home. He is gruff, and I am sensitive, but I still love him, and I'm proud of him.

    This tribute was beautiful. My condolences, and my tears, for you and for your family.

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  89. Wow, a very moving post- I'm a softy so this totally has me crying.

    Military honors are something that most people have only seen in movies, it's nice to see it from a civilian POV. My deepest sympathy for your loss, I hope you and your family are coping well.

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  90. Well written, Jen. I wish I could have done this, eleven years ago this November, at my great-grandfather's funeral. However, I was blessed to be able to sing for him there, so I guess that'll have to do.

    Thanks for this post, Jen, and thank you all to the men and women who have sacrificed so much, past, present, and future.

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  91. Thank you for sharing this. My own family lost my grandmother this spring, and it has been a difficult and emotional year. I am so sorry to hear of your loss.

    -C

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  92. The honor guard is a wonderful blessing. Two young soldiers attended my father's funeral at the end of July. We were indoors and the flag ceremony and taps were so touching. These soldiers, one man and one woman were so respectful and there was such a sense of continuity even though they were probably 60 years younger than my dad. They honored him as a fellow soldier.
    I am a grateful daughter.
    In memory of JKL 1928-2011

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  93. This post brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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  94. So sorry for your loss. Such a beautiful post.

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  95. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    My condolences to your family for your loss xx

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  96. This is so beautiful. Now I've got tears running down my face as I remember my own grandparents and many a happy Christmas spent at their house, and how much I miss them now. Thank you.

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  97. Thank you. I don't have the right words, but this brings back bittersweet memories (more sweet than bitter) of my 27yo brother's funeral from October 2009. The sights and sounds of a military funeral never leave you.

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  98. What a beautiful tribute. I lost my grandfather four years ago. He was a former Marine. I did just fine until they presented my grandmother with the flag.

    I'm a grateful granddaughter too. Thank you.

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  99. Jen- I'm very sorry for your loss. My grandmother died on 6/14/11 too- maybe our grandparents high-fived each other on the way to heaven!

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  100. I will never forget when my paternal grandfather passed away and his internment included military honors. The entire family was very touched by the respect and compassion of the veterans who participated.

    My sympathies for your loss.

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  101. Jen, I'm so sorry about the loss of your grandfather. Your post brings back fresh tears, as I just buried my own grandfather back in April. The honor guard allowed us to keep a few of the shotgun shells, and I had mine engraved with Papaw's nickname, DOB and DOD. He was an ornery old man who was well loved by everyone in his small town. I miss him like crazy.

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  102. Jen, you made me cry. And as a veteran, thank you to all of you for your support. It means just as much to us on the other side of the equation.

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  103. Amazingly sincere and beautiful. Thank you for bringing us along on the journey with you.

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  104. Jen,
    Thank you for this post. It personified exactly how I feel and felt about my grandfather when he passed, and you words brought all of those emotions flooding back. I can't thank you enough for your beautiful prose, and tears that your brought to my eyes. My deepest condolences.

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  105. Jen, thank you so very much for this loving and moving tribute to your grandfather. My grandfather, who served on a Naval hospital ship during WWII at the age of 17 (He volunteered! His mother went with him to sign for him.) passed earlier this year. Unfortunately I was not able to attend his services, including a military honors burial. You have most definitely brought tears to my eyes as well. From one grateful granddaughter to another, thank you.

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  106. What a beautiful tribute to your grandfather. Thank you for sharing! *hugs* I'm sorry for you and your family's loss.

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  107. At first, I thought maybe you were being fancy and celebrating grandma's birthday... and then I realized. I'm so sorry for your loss...

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  108. You don't have to be close to someone to love them, and you obviously loved your grandfather. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful memory with us, and allowing us to cry along with you. My condolences to you and yours in your loss.

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  109. I have tears in my eyes now, darn you. We buried my husband's grandfather this June. He hadn't met the requirements for a gun salute, but they wanted to do it for him anyway. It was beautiful. I hadn't really liked the man. In his old age he became very mean and spiteful to my mother in law and for that my husband had really detached from him. After hearing the stories the friends told of him, I kinda wished I got to talk to him.

    Thank you for sharing your story.

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  110. Jen, that was beautiful. *hug*

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  111. This tribute was amazing. I was tearing up by the end. And your pictures were beautiful.

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  112. I'm sorry for your loss. I was really touched by your post. My great-grandfather passed away a few years ago and he was a military man too. He was the only grandfather I knew. I loved seeing pictures of him when he was younger, in his uniform--I was always surprised at how handsome he was back then! I hope your family can find peace and comfort.

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  113. Beautifully written, I have a huge lump in my throat right now.

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  114. Such a lovely tribute. I'm sorry for your loss.

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  115. Thank you. Thank you for letting me know someone else felt the same awe at a millitary funeral.

    My mother was buried in Arlington National Cemetary on August 5th. I was awed to tears by the respect and honor they gave her.

    My condolences on loosing your Grandfather. Even though we know they must leave us, it hurts.

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  116. I too am trying to choke back tears. Even though I lived with my grandparents growing up, my grandfather was somewhat emotionally distant; both shy and gruff, if that makes any sense. He died almost two decades ago, and he too had a military funeral. I cried when they did the 21 gun salute.

    What's funny is that while I was cleaning out the garage last weekend, I found the box that had all the love letters he sent to grandma when he was in the service. I feel somewhat voyeuristic reading them, but they give me a new perspective on Pa. I only knew the shy, gruff man who I never heard say the words "I love you." Now I'm reading the words of his 20something self, full of fears, hopes and dreams for the future, and immense amounts of passion and love for the woman who remained his bride until the day he died.

    Thank you for sharing something so personal and painful. Please know that you are not alone in being a grateful granddaughter.

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  117. I still remember the music from my grandfather's funeral 10 years ago this month. The air even felt the same as you described. I feel every part of today's post and thank you for it. I'm sorry for your loss. I think it's harder to regret not getting to know grandparents better but easier when you get to say goodbye. Again, thank you.

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  118. Beautiful and perfectly poignant. Thank you for sharing this. Both of my grandfathers are military, and I'm lucky enough to still have one of them. I dread the day I'm there to say goodbye again. Your post has given me the courage to ask if I can take pictures.

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  119. Wow. My grandfather is in hospice, and this nearly made me cry. "You were gruff, and I was sensitive" just about explains our relationship. My granddaddy baked, too; I didn't know that until recently, when I was helping clean out his kitchen and I found a huge container of chocolate chips. Thank you for writing this, it was really beautiful, and I'm sorry for your loss.

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  120. My condolences and my tears that are running down my cheeks and my thanks.

    Hugs to you and your family.

    Wish your limo ride was for something more fun though.

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  121. I'm so sorry. And as a long-time reader, I don't think you even had a chance for a day off.

    I was too young to remember my paternal grandparents but I remember how my mom was affected when HER dad died. Part of my tears was knowing someone I loved was hurting.

    Thank you for this post. It was very eloquent.

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  122. My grandfather was lifetime Navy. He died when I was a baby, and I never knew him. I only have one story of us:

    -When my mom and grandma ran into a store, he gruffly offered to watch me. When they came out, they found him in the drivers seat, with me sitting in the cradle of the steering wheel. And he'd turn it back and forth to make me laugh.

    And I don't know what you mean when you say you don't remember that picture being that clear. Every picture was fuzzy, but that might be because of my own tears as I read your post.

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  123. Absolutely beautiful. I am speechless. Thank you for for sharing this with us.

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  124. I can still remember the sounds of the salute through the rain at my Grandad's funeral, it was a beautiful and sad moment I hope I never forget, thank you for reminding me.

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  125. Such a moving tribute, thank you for sharing this. It reminds me a little of my grandad's funeral as he didn't like to talk about his part in the war and it's aftermath. My thoughts are with you and your family

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  126. Truly beautiful. Thank you so much.

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  127. It took me a half hour to read this, couldn't break down and bawl because I was at work.

    Beautifully written, what a moving and personal thing to share with us. Thank you so much for really giving of your full self on this blog.

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  128. Thanks Jen, take care of you x

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  129. Thank you for sharing this. Beautiful post. My great uncle passed a couple months ago and also had a military funeral. God bless those who served and are still serving to keep us free. We are, and always shall remain, deeply grateful for their sacrifice, and also the sacrifices of their families.

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  130. Beautiful, Jen. Thank you for sharing.

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  131. This. Was. Beyond words. I was you last year. Grandpa. The flag. The salute. It was bitterly cold, though, for us. And about a foot of snow on the ground. The words and the trumpet and the sound the guns made seemed amplified because of the snow and ice covered ground and air. They did a great thing, didn't they? Serving our country like that.

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  132. Beautiful post, thank you for sharing. I am so sorry for your loss x

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  133. pardon me while I wipe my eyes, cheeks and chin because the tears won't stop. That was exquisitely beautiful and I wish that I could have come even partially close to being that eloquent when my own WWII veteran Grandfather had passed away many years ago. I too didn't know my grandpa that well, just enough to see him as this tall distant man who always seemed a little cool towards the herd of grandkids, but he showed his love in the letters he'd write to my mom asking her to pass along 'just a little hug to the kids' or whatever.

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  134. AH! I read this at work, not really thinking anything of it... and I almost cried! When my Grandfather died, we had a situation very similar, except no limo, my Grandmother had already passed away, and almost 200 people showed up (we have a massive, and I do mean MASSIVE family). It was incredibly moving to read your story, and remember my own from over 5 years ago. Thank you so much for sharing, and I am so sorry for your loss.

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  135. This reminded me of my grandfather's funeral. We also took a limo with my family and he also was in the military. Thanks for sharing.

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  136. So sorry for your loss. My father had a color guard at his funeral. It meant so much to my family. To see them take the time to show respect to my family in that way is very powerful. At the time in Ohio, the color guards were booked up, and they did not have enough volunteers. We were told that they could not come. My father's post made sure that the color guard was there. 32yrs in the Army.

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  137. thanks for sharing.

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  138. I cried when I read this yesterday. Then I read it today... and cried again.

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  139. That was so touching. Thank you so much for sharing such a personal part of your life with all of us.

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  140. This is a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. It brought tears to my eyes and reminded me of my grandfather's funeral. Taps still gets me every time. My condolences to your family.

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  141. Jen,
    Thank you for heart touching post. I went through the same exact same situation with my grandfather's passing last May. The honor guard, the playing of taps, the flag ceremony...all made me deeply proud of the life and sacrifice my grandfather had made. I miss him everyday, but I know that he is being honored even more so in God's presence.

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  142. I remember my father when he was in the VFW and he was in the color guard and how proud he was when he could be a part in the rite of another soldier taking their last leave. He made me so proud that I joined the military (silly me) myself. And it was like a good deed coming back around again when the VFW representative placed daddy's flag in my mother's arms. We may not be the best people ever put on this earth, but for a time in our life we risked everything for those we love. It's hard to ask for more.

    Thank you beyond words for this heartbreaking lovely presentation. Bless you and your family, your grandmom especially, granddad is at peace.

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  143. Beautiful and heart-wrenching. Thank you for sharing. I'm thinking about you and hoping you can feel the hugs and support through the internet.

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  144. Thank you. That was very beautiful and moving. I am so sorry to here about your grandfather but thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute with us.

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  145. Thank you for sharing. I couldn't make it to the end without tears. Makes me miss my grandpa. Your pictures are wonderful.

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  146. Lovely, Jen. Just beautiful. This granddaughter, niece, & daughter-in-law thanks you for this.

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  147. Thank you for sharing that. I wish I had something better to say than, "I'm sorry," but there just aren't words for this kind of feeling. That's what hugs are for.

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  148. Beautiful!! It was reminiscent of my grandpa's funeral a few years ago. Thank you.

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  149. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing. From a marine brat, you have no idea how much I wish I had those pictures from my fathers.

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  150. Hugs and condolences to you and your family. What a beautiful tribute

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  151. Thank you for sharing that. It moved me to tears and was a very touching tribute.

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  152. My condolences to you and your family. What a wonderful family your grandfather helped to create.

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  153. Your words are so amazing - some days I laugh, frequently I roll my eyes - today, I cry... and am profoundly grateful that men like your grandfather show such honor to people (an entire nation of them) that they don't even know.

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  154. This is a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing, and I'm very sorry for your loss. My grandpa was in the air force in World War II, so I empathize very much.

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  155. Beautifully said, Jen. You might not have felt that you were that close, but you paid a poetic homage to your Grandfather and his service in this post and these photos - perhaps more beautifully than spoken words could ever say.

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  156. That is a beautiful tribute. I didn't know your grandfather, but I think he would be honored.

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  157. I'm sitting here in tears as I write this. Such beatiful sentiment and pictures. I know those feelings well, from the loss to the embarrassment of the camera sounds to the love or your family. You're a fantastic writer. Thank you for sharing such a meaningful moment in your life.
    AngieN24

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  158. Thanks for sharing with us Jen. A very moving tribute.

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  159. My own grandfather died of Alzheimers several years ago. He was a WWII veteran and a POW. At his funeral, my aunt read a series of letters that he had sent to my grandmother from Germany and later, from the labor camp. It was a side of him I'd never heard before, humorous and so beautiful. I wish I'd had a chance to get to know him before the disease. Thank you so much for sharing this. It brought back that image of my grandfather as a young man, writing love notes to his sweetheart from the front.

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  160. I agree with "min"...from one granddaughter who has had an almost exact copy of that experience I understand and send my sincere regards to you and yours. May all us granddaughters and grandsons be reminded of the men who came before us and what they've done for our country!

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  161. I read this piece yesterday and started to cry. My grandfather also had a military funeral and it brought back all the memories of that day. Sadly, my grandfather's death was very tragic, but I remember how much that flag ceremony meant to my whole family and it was a sad, but nice moment. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  162. This is a great post. All I can say is that I was really moved. I really appreciate what you've shared, and what your grandfather, as well as his brothers, did and continue to do for our country.

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  163. jen that was wonderful, Last year at my fathers funeral we had a similar ceremony, the men never knew my dad but the way they performed the ceremony you would have thought they knew him his whole life, no one had a dry eye in the house.

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  164. That was beautiful, Jen. Thank you for sharing that. The armed forces honored both of my grandfathers too at their burials-I didn't even know my dad's father had been in the service, he never spoke of it. It was humbling.

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  165. Being a military brat, it's hard for me to not cry while reading this. So touching and true. God Bless you and your family. And thank you to your Grandpa, may he rest in peace and perfectness, for his service.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

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  166. My grandfather loved to make things. I think that's why I love this blog so much... He created all of these great things with his hands out of weird woods I'd never heard of, and knew all the right places to go for hardware that the chains stores didn't carry. He served his country as a SeaBee in WWII and was still making things over there. He made a prosthetic leg for a girl who had lost hers to a land mine. He made his own flag box to include a place for his ribbons and metals. It was the saddest day of my life when we replaced the picture of him in his uniform with a flag. That was five years ago and I find myself weeping uncontrollably by your beautiful post.
    I am glad that you spent the day with your family and that there was laughter along with the tears. You and your family have my prayers.

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  167. Thank you for sharing such a personal moment. It was so touching and genuine. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

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  168. On your grandfather's 15th birthday, my father was born.

    We're coming up on the 2nd anniversary of his death. He also had a military ceremony - the bugle, the flag - and this brought back so many feelings, and tears. I wish we had pictures.

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  169. My father was born 12/27/28. I am blessed that he is still with me. I treasure every moment.

    I am a military historian. I do a lot of work with veterans groups and military archives. For those of you seeking information about veterans you did not know and would like to know, my first a suggestion is to look at what they left behind. Often stuck in a drawer, an attic, a basement, a trunk, a scrapbook you will find a treasure trove of letters, postcards, photographs, medals, uniforms that the veteran did not believe anyone would be interested in owning. Handle carefully. Each is a treasure. If you don't have the benefit of a treasure trove, research the service record of your veteran. There are many great sources online to assist you. You may be surprised at what you will learn. I haunt yard sales and estate sales seeking such glimpses into the past and it always saddens me to see these precious items cast aside with a cheap sticker price. If you don't know, look. You won't know until you do. Don't wait until someone else discards this piece of your history.
    "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other." ~Mother Teresa

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  170. Thank you for sharing! All I needed was a picture of a veteran to start crying, but your honest words made it that much harder not to let the tears roll. (Good tears.) Your line about not connecting with your grandfather could have been me writing. He was a vet, too, but we didn't get this lovely chance to recognize that. Thanks again.

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  171. My army surgeon grandpa died when I was only a few months old. But we still have his dog tags, photos, telegrams, and letters. I learned enough about him to know he was unquestionably a hero.
    Thanks for sharing, Jen.

    -Another Grateful Granddaughter.

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  172. This made me miss my grandpa. He was a WWII vet and an amazing grandpa. He died when I was 13, I'm now 26 and every year on my birthday, I still catch myself waiting for his call.

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  173. As a geek vet, and the husband of a geeky girl with the difficult job of being a military spouse... I wanted to say thanks for sharing this.

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  174. Jen, I'm a proud wife of an Honor Guard member. He heard your thank you, of that you can be certain. Every firing I go to brings the same tears. Whether or not I knew the deceased isn't the point, it's the honor they receive in their death from their fellow soldiers. From one grateful wife, daughter, niece, cousin and granddaughter....thank you for sharing. You honored your grandfather in a way that no one else could. Beautiful!

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  175. I Went to one of these just last week as well, for my uncle gene. Thanks for posting

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  176. Absolutely beautiful, Jen. Your grandpa would be proud.

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  177. I stand Funeral Honors as a member of my Navy command's Detail, and I want to thank you from the OTHER side of the flag.

    To know that our efforts to honor our fallen shipmates and their families means so much makes all the 90 degree (and 5 degree) days bearable. To know that in some small way, we have given something to you, as your grandfather gave to us...that brings a feeling that words can not express.

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  178. Thank you, Jen, for posting. Brought tears to my eyes and memories surfaced from my father's service. Condolences and God Bless.

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  179. I never used to feel much more than a sense of gratitude when I saw military funerals. It was ornate and solemn and I belie e in celebrating a persons life not mourning their passing... Til I lost my grandfather. He and I were as close as could be, it shook me to my foundations to lose him and the military funeral was the most beautiful, sad thing I'd ever see. Protesters tried to ruin it for us but people out there, people better than me, felt it deeply and stopped them.
    Now I ball like a baby when I see something like this. Thank you for sharing your moments.

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  180. Jen, this is lovely. It was especially timely, because I read it the night before my grandpa's military funeral. On Monday, we honored him for his 30 years of service in the Navy, starting as a very young pilot in WWII. Thank you so much for your beautiful post, and much love and comfort to your family. Best, Jess

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  181. My grandpa died years ago and I still think about him and miss him. I tear up whenever I hear "you are my sunshine", which he would sing while walking down the hall. He was a WWII vet and the flag they gave my grandmother has sat prominently in her dining room. I'll always consider the love he showed my grandma one of the greatest things I've ever known. The family party after his funeral was also precious and I think it resonates with the experience you so beautifully described. Thank you, with a teary smile.

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  182. Thank you.

    My grandfather passed away on August 3 and his memorial service will be on the 22nd. I can't be there as I live overseas and am pregnant. Your photos and memories are helping me to face the loss of the man I have loved so much and is so dear to me.

    Again, thank you.

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  183. So beautiful. Thank you. *squeezles you*

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  184. I'm a little behind on my reading. I'm glad I went back and read this post. It was beautiful. It truly moved me. I'm glad other readers were able to edit the photo for you. I'm also glad you updated because I was already opening up photoshop :)

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  185. This captures exactly how I felt at my grandfather's funeral. Thank you for expressing it so beautifully. I miss him so much, every day. The flag at his funeral went to my uncle, as my grandma had already passed away, but I will never forget the bugle playing Taps in the still air.

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