Monday, February 20

21 Gun Salute

A military gun salute is both one of the most devastating and one of the most beautiful sounds on earth.

Devastating because each shot in the air is a shot in the heart, reminding you that the person you loved is gone.

Beautiful because each shot in the air is a shot in the heart, reminding you that the person you loved was an honorable, valiant, faithful member of this nation's armed forces.

Z's memorial service was held on Friday, February 17 at the Veteran's Memorial Park in Bluffdale, UT.  It was at times heartbreaking, but mostly comforting.  Family and close friends gave wonderful tributes to the full and happy life he lived.  There were two recurring themes in all of the stories shared: First, Z was mischievous - he loved to play around and do crazy things.  He wasn't afraid of anything, it seemed, and every wild (and potentially dangerous) idea was probably his.  He always told me that in high school, he and his buddies weren't bad kids... they were just mischievous.  Putting a dead deer in the front seat of someone's convertible?  Definitely mischievous.  Second, Z was constantly putting the needs and wants of others before his own.  It was something he and I talked about often as having in common - the compulsive need to serve and take care of others, to help solve other people's problems.  More than anything, though, the words and memories shared proved that he loved his family more than anything, and he showed that love everyday in both word and deed.

With the help of angels, I'm sure, I was able to get through A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief (even with the beginnings of a very nasty cold), my final tribute to someone who meant so much to me.  I hope he liked it.  He was an amazing young man, and I am eternally grateful for the time we spent together and was honored to be a part of his memorial.

As the service moved outside, a Patriot Guard with American flags lined the path to the final resting place for his ashes.  A Marine Honor Guard in their dress blues rendered full military honors with a 21 gun salute (or, to be more precise, a 3-volley salute), and the presentation of a flag to his mother.  His step-father (retired Navy) played Taps on the trumpet.  I can't really describe the scene or put my feelings into words other than to say, again, it was both devastating and beautiful.

(a close family friend prepared a beautiful program; Z's step-father gave me one of the shell casings from the gun salute)

Today is Z's birthday.  He would have been 24.  I am heartbroken that he is gone.  I am sad for the pain of his family and loved ones.  But I am comforted in the knowledge that he has returned to his heavenly home, that he is free from tears and sorrows, that he is at peace and continues to live beyond the veil.

Love you always, Zach.

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