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Veteran’s Day Re-post: Dad’s Funeral at Arlington Cemetery

November 11, 2012 by · Comments Off on Veteran’s Day Re-post: Dad’s Funeral at Arlington Cemetery 

Funeral at Arlington

My Dad was a Veteran of WWII and served in the Air National Guard for many years.  Rising through the ranks, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel—two grades below General. Toward the end of his life, he tragically suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for more than ten years as it inexorably ate away his memory. Like the saying, on July 8, 2011 at age 92, the old soldier finally faded away.

He was bestowed the privilege of burial in Arlington Cemetery for his valor during combat duty in the Pacific. The National Cemetery schedules 27 internments a day, including burials of active duty soldiers serving in Afghanistan–we waited nearly seven weeks for Dad’s cremated remains to receive a proper military service. Our family opted not to wait until November 3rd, the earliest date available for full military honors including a caisson to carry him to the gravesite.

As anticipated, plans and procedures were meticulously carried out despite the earthquake that hit Virginia a day earlier. We entered the main gates and it was so humbling to see mile after mile, row upon row of perfectly aligned white marble slabs, identifying more than 320,000 servicemen’s graves. The mere sight will snap even a civilian to attention.

We were directed to the Administration building and then to a gathering room for families awaiting ceremonies. A television monitor displayed live coverage of the soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, something that transfixed the grandchildren’s attention.

My 91-year-old Mother and I handed over the required documents and were given a map with a marker denoting my Father’s plot. We drove to his internment location, past the Air Force Memorial whose spires of steel evoke the vibrant force of flight. A squad of soldiers awaited in formation to escort Lieutenant Colonel John Palmer, Jr.’s urn to the gravesite. Our family and friends followed. A highly decorated military chaplain delivered a brief service with the utmost dignity and care. His speech was passionate and he praised my Dad for serving his country in a courageous way. He honored my Dad and all the others buried in the hallowed sanctuary and hailed my father as a true American patriot.

A three-volley salute was fired by a formation of  seven soldiers stationed to our left. A lone bugler played Taps, a somber farewell muted by the enormity of the endless grounds. The flag, held over the urn during the service, was precisely folded by six members of the unit and delivered to the leader for inspection. He then passed the triangular shaped cloth to the chaplain who presented it to my Mother. Although the chaplain did not know our family, his warmth was genuine and you could feel his sincerity.

An Arlington Lady approached my Mom, a representative of the wives of soldiers buried here, and paid her respects–a truly noble gesture by this group of volunteers.  Then we stood and filed by his remains placing a red rose on the stand.

The ceremony didn’t take long but it was a poignant and most dignified way to send off to a man who loved his country and proudly served. All is well and now he gently rests in the Nation’s shrine.

If you go:

Arlington National Cemetery lies across the Potomac River from Washington, DC and is open from 8 am to 5 pm except from April 1-September 30 when it stays open until 7 pm.  Paid visitor parking is off Memorial Drive. Access to the cemetery is free and visitors may walk to see John Kennedy’s grave or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; however it is a mile uphill. To avoid the walk, purchase tour bus tickets at the Visitor’s Center to see Robert E. Lee’s house and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Visitor Information at 877 907 8585 or www.arlingtoncemetery.mil

Feeling like a Star in the Star City

April 26, 2012 by · Comments Off on Feeling like a Star in the Star City 

Roanoke’s Star on Mill Mountain

Not often are you treated like a star unless, of course,  you are a Hollywood celebrity or famous athlete.  But, the people of Roanoke made me feel like returning royalty including  Mayor Bowers, whom I met at the top of  Mill Mountain.

David Bowers, Mayor of Roanoke

You see, decades ago I attended Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia, one of the cities in the area now known as Virginia’s Blue Ridge.  While a student I entered the Miss Roanoke Valley pageant and surprisingly won!  I did not go on to become Miss Virginia but the experience was memorable and the scholarship money helpful.

Miss Roanoke Valley

Now, after way too many years, I finally returned to Roanoke and found the city itself had earned starlet status- a shining example of living up to its title as the Star City of the South and to downtown revitalization.

 

Back in the early 1970’s,  the city center was nothing to brag about.  Today, it thrives with a farmer’s market open seven day a week  and many boutique shops and restaurants.  The Taubman Museum of Art is the new queen hosting a stellar collection. Plus, the O. Winston Link Museum is an absolute winner for photographers and railroad buffs.

 

Taubman Museum of Art

O. Winston Link Collection

On my tour I saw  only two businesses that I remembered from the past. One was the Texas Tavern, a tiny hole in the wall eatery which sits ten and continues to sell burgers for $1.25.

 

 

 

 

The other building I fondly recall is the Hotel Roanoke, a magnificent Tudor-style mansion sitting on the hill overlooking train tracks.  The hotel’s history is closely tied with railroading. The venue (constructed 1937-38) was originally owned by the N & W- Norfolk and Western Railroad, the company that transformed sleepy Big Lick into Roanoke  and established  their headquarters and a major intersection of  the north-south and east-west rail lines.

Hotel Roanoke

Sadly, the Hotel Roanoke fell into disrepair and closed her doors in 1989. But, like Sleeping Beauty, growth and change took place around her as she snoozed.  Awakened and reopened in 1995, she once again reigns with fashionable rooms and a new conference center that blends into the old  architectural style.

Dining tradition continues with the hotel’s famed peanut soup and spoon bread. I was lucky enough to sample a cup of soup topped with chopped peanuts and a tiny skillet of warm cornbread oozing butter.  Yum.  The hotel insisted my group partake the luncheon buffet: a bounty of entrees, salads, vegetables and six to eight desserts. A splendid curtain call.

 

I could go about my heavenly trip to Roanoke, but I’ll save more description on Virginia’s Blue Ridge for a later blog post.

 

Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance as fog lifts from the city of Roanoke.


Virginia on Dwellable

Dad’s Funeral at Arlington Cemetery

August 30, 2011 by · Comments Off on Dad’s Funeral at Arlington Cemetery 

Funeral at Arlington

My Dad was a Veteran of WWII and served in the Air National Guard for many years.  Rising through the ranks, he retired as a Lieutenant Colonel—two grades below General. Toward the end of his life, he tragically suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for more than ten years as it inexorably ate away his memory. Like the saying, on July 8, 2011 at age 92, the old soldier finally faded away.

 He was bestowed the privilege of burial in Arlington Cemetery for his valor during combat duty in the Pacific. The National Cemetery schedules 27 internments a day, including burials of active duty soldiers serving in Afghanistan–we waited nearly seven weeks for Dad’s cremated remains to receive a proper military service. Our family opted not to wait until November 3rd, the earliest date available for full military honors including a caisson to carry him to the gravesite.

As anticipated, plans and procedures were meticulously carried out despite the earthquake that hit Virginia a day earlier. We entered the main gates and it was so humbling to see mile after mile, row upon row of perfectly aligned white marble slabs, identifying more than 320,000 servicemen’s graves. The mere sight will snap even a civilian to attention.

We were directed to the Administration building and then to a gathering room for families awaiting ceremonies. A television monitor displayed live coverage of the soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, something that transfixed the grandchildren’s attention.

My 91-year-old Mother and I handed over the required documents and were given a map with a marker denoting my Father’s plot. We drove to his internment location, past the Air Force Memorial whose spires of steel evoke the vibrant force of flight. A squad of soldiers awaited in formation to escort Lieutenant Colonel John Palmer, Jr.’s urn to the gravesite. Our family and friends followed. A highly decorated military chaplain delivered a brief service with the utmost dignity and care. His speech was passionate and he praised my Dad for serving his country in a courageous way. He honored my Dad and all the others buried in the hallowed sanctuary and hailed my father as a true American patriot.

A three-volley salute was fired by a formation of  seven soldiers stationed to our left. A lone bugler played Taps, a somber farewell muted by the enormity of the endless grounds. The flag, held over the urn during the service, was precisely folded by six members of the unit and delivered to the leader for inspection. He then passed the triangular shaped cloth to the chaplain who presented it to my Mother. Although the chaplain did not know our family, his warmth was genuine and you could feel his sincerity.

An Arlington Lady approached my Mom, a representative of the wives of soldiers buried here, and paid her respects–a truly noble gesture by this group of volunteers.  Then we stood and filed by his remains placing a red rose on the stand.

The ceremony didn’t take long but it was a poignant and most dignified way to send off to a man who loved his country and proudly served. All is well and now he gently rests in the Nation’s shrine.

If you go:

Arlington National Cemetery lies across the Potomac River from Washington, DC and is open from 8 am to 5 pm except from April 1-September 30 when it stays open until 7 pm.  Paid visitor parking is off Memorial Drive. Access to the cemetery is free and visitors may walk to see John Kennedy’s grave or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; however it is a mile uphill. To avoid the walk, purchase tour bus tickets at the Visitor’s Center to see Robert E. Lee’s house and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Visitor Information at 877 907 8585 or www.arlingtoncemetery.mil

**********

This poem is authored by Lolete Barlow, the wife of an AF officer who is now deceased. Mrs. Barlow attended the October 2006 dedication of the Air Force Memorial and was inspired to write this poem. She gave it to the Air Force Memorial Foundation so that it could be shared with all of you.

UNITED STATES AIR FORCE MEMORIAL
October 2006

They’re not as tall, nor fleet of foot.
Their hair no longer dark, has thinned
Or disappeared perhaps,
And yet the spark of who they were,
These warriors of old, radiates from each of them,
The skilled, the brave, the bold.

Long years ago when they were young
They flew through foreign skies
And fought for home and country,
For freedom and the lives
Of loved ones left behind.

These pilots, gunners, bombardiers,
Ground support and engineers
Fought valiantly a world away
Defending what we have today
Half a century later.

From all the missions that were flown
Too many never made it home.
Instead they sleep ‘neath foreign soil
With fellow airmen—comrades all.
None will be forgotten.

To all who wore the Air Force blue,
To all the men and women who,
Though gone before us, live on still
In memory upon this hill.
We gratefully salute you.

Now spires of stainless steel curve high
And yonder pierce the wild blue sky,
A hilltop tribute all can see
A monument to victory
And heroes who secured it.

GOD BLESS THEM ALL

© Lolete Barlow

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