I was just recently admitted into Airmen Leadership School in the Air Force. (It’s required of all future Sergeants to attend.) During the few weeks of this school, we were to attend the funeral of a local Vietnam Veteran to show the base support for the grieving families. My class all arrived in our full service dress and shown to our pews. The base commander and several other high ranking officials also arrived and sat in the pew in front of our small section by the church door.
After the priest finished the readings on the schedule, our base commander got up to say a few words in memory of the Veteran. We all thought he would say something regarding his honorable service…mentioning any awards or decorations he received, or something along those lines. Apparently, he decided to talk only about his service in Vietnam…to include that when people were searching through the mass of bodies for survivors…that the only reason he was found to be “alive” was when someone heard a bloody “gurgle” escape his throat. (Because what mourning family member wants to think about that?) My class thought that another member of the family would get up and say a few words in regards to the man being a husband, father and grandfather and salvage the ceremony…but no, our commander talking about “bloody gurgles” was the only person to get up and speak at the funeral to a large mass of mourning family members.
To top it off, as the procession is starting and the casket is being brought down to leave the church, our high ranking front pew members leave the church through the front door before the casket. And as with all protocol…we are supposed to follow suit. We tried to get the person in the front of our pew to stay so the casket and family could leave first, but they didn’t. So row after row of bewildered and embarrassed Airmen left out of the church service in front of the deceased and their family. Apparently the commander had a pressing appointment or something, but that’s no reason to be completely disrespectful. I don’t even know how anything could have been done to amend the situation. 0711-11
I attended a funeral this summer of a friend and listened with astonishment as the daughter of the deceased used the eulogy to talk about herself with very little mention of her mother. She spoke of how the cancer diagnosis devastated her (and how did you think your mom handled it?), how she served her mom (Hmm…you wouldn’t come to the hospice center when told your mom’s death was imminent), and pretty much she was the good daughter (clearly a slap at the other siblings). The most self-centered eulogy I’ve ever heard.