We honored and buried one of my heroes and role models, General Jack Guthrie, this Tuesday at an incredibly moving ceremony at Ft Myer Chapel and Arlington National Cemetery.
The three heroes in my life — my father, General Guthrie and Uncle Art — are now resting in peace in Arlington National Cemetery. First, Uncle Art was interred at ANC on Sept 11, 2007; then, my father was interred there last May 22nd; and now General Guthrie is buried right next to his beloved wife at ANC.
I’ve written and blogged in the past about the importance that General Guthrie had on my life. And, after hearing the tributes and witnessing the ceremony, it once again validates what a great and important person he has been in my life.
The Guthrie family has six children and I’m considered the 7th sibling — it’s a wonderful and humbling honor. I went with the family in the limo to Ft Myer on Tuesday morning at around 8:15. As we got out of the car, I was blown away at what I witnessed. There were literally hundreds and hundreds of soldiers in the parking lot — they were assembling for the ceremony.
Both my father and uncle, who were an Army and Air Force officer respectively, also had the military honor guard at their funerals — but 4-star generals, rightfully so, are accorded a special ceremony. It turns there were over 400 soldiers there! It was such a heart-warming sight.
The ceremony at Ft Myer Chapel started at 9:00 am — various family members delivered and moving tributes about the General. It was powerful — and the tears flowed throughout the ceremony. At around 9:30 am, we went outside for the processional march from the chapel to the burial site.
This was an incredible scene. The US Army Honor Guard led us for the one-mile walk to the site. There were eight horses pulling the casket. Right behind the casket was the rider-less horse with the boots placed backward. The site of over 400 soldiers leading the way is something we will never forget.
At the burial site, the US Army Honor Guard was simply spectacular. The band played “Taps” as well as a couple of other songs (yes, I cried hard during the playing of “Taps.”) There was a round of 17 shots fired individually by the Army soldiers. This is an incredible honor afforded to the highest-ranking generals in the Armed Services. Then, there was another round of 21 shots (3 rounds from 7 shooters).
Next was the flag-folding ceremony, then the presentation of the flag to the family. The perfection of the soldiers during this presentation is something incredible.
There is simply no better way to honor a person. The military sends their men and women off in the most honorable way. People that witness this for the first time walk away in amazement.
I’ve now seen this for three years in a row. It’s hard to see and I’m emotionally fragile. But, I feel fortunate that three heroes in my life all lived into their 80’s — they lived long, wonderful lives. And, the thought of the three of them together is something that gives me peace and strength.
Thank you, Dad. Thank you, Uncle Art. Thank you, General Guthrie. You three showed me how to live life the right way. And, I hope to honor you for the rest of my life by trying to live by the lessons you taught me. I love you and I miss you. Peace.