(Click Picture for Hernandotoday.com article)
Today was a tough day. We were at the funeral of PFC Cody Grater at Spring Hill Baptist Church. I had the privilege of praying during the service. I also had the honor of meeting and observing several men from our nation's armed forces.
The funeral was very well attended. Even more overwhelming was the number of people lining the street holding American flags and showing support.
Upon arrival to the Florida National Cemetery in Bushnell, Florida, the burial service commenced. The heat was oppressive, but I kept thinking about the soldiers performing the ceremony- they had to stay perfectly still and follow through with disciplined actions while in the direct sunlight and in their dress uniforms. I also thought about those soldiers Cody left behind. They face this heat and worse in Iraq. They also have to beware of the enemy- an enemy that is like a cockroach- hides under rocks and in crevasses.
Cody's two cousins, one in the Air Force, the other in the Army, were part of the ceremony. They were part of the group that folded the flag and carried the casket to the grave site. They were able to keep it together until Cody was lowered into the ground. During the service they had a 21-gun salute and played Taps. That was the most difficult part for me. Between the honor or the guns and the sadness of Taps- the finality- I could scarcely hold back the tears.
When Cody's body was lowered into the grave, his cousins lost their composure and were allowed by the Sergeant to be dismissed from their formation to join their family. It left a formation with only four men, but it was definitely the right thing to do. Cody's sister, Cheyanne, was so strong during the whole series of events- the wake and the service at the church as well as the cemetery, but when they lowered Cody's casket, she also was overwhelmed, as was her mother. I think it was the finality of it all.
The good thing is that it is final, but it is also temporary for those who know Christ. Cody was saved before he joined the Army and that means we can see him in heaven. For those who do not know Jesus, the only way to see Cody again is to place your faith in Christ. But it cannot be just to see Cody- it must be by placing your trust in Jesus as the only remedy for your sin. Realizing that He alone is able to bring you to salvation.
"Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him." -James 1.12
***UPDATE: The St. Petersburg Times has an article entitled: "Fallen Soldier: 'No war where he is now'"- a title taken from a quote out of my prayer during the service. What an honor.