I wrote about a young man who died. Today they had a service over at the big church. It was religious and it was musical. People told stories; Old people held it together while the younger folks broke down a little bit. I really don't know about the honesty there, but as grownups we have had to hurt people in more serious ways than the younger group, so maybe we pack our sorrows like a concealed weapon and go shoot them off in private. When the service concluded, the coffin was wheeled out. It no longer had it's white and gold drape; in stead it now law covered in the flag of the land. It is a good flag for happiness and a proud flag for a fight. I think most people in this country like it. At each end of the coffin stood a special soldier. A man and a woman dressed in the dress blues one rarely sees. Alex the boy who died had been a member of a famous Army unit, the ones who guard the unknown war dead at Arlington, VA and conduct burials in that famous place. Now with quiet precision they were doing it far away.
We stood in the street, suddenly 7 rifles spit the silence 3 times and a bugle played taps. The soldiers at the casket saluted and soon an elegant officer marched into the tableau.
Then to the sound of a silent drum the men and women went to work. They folded the flag to a perfect rhythm-beats and rests both. Once folded the woman took the perfect triangle and rotated it softly with her snow white gloves to the silent drum beat. She handed it to the officer, a perfect Black Man born with no smile but eyes of such deep compassion that when he handed the flag to Alex's mother it was as touching as a mother receiving her new born son. In a way, she was receiving her son because as she took the flag more perfect troops appeared and with not a nod or a wink, just the perfect beat of the silent drum the marched the casket into a waiting hearse and then simply disappeared, leaving the civilian funeral corps to handle the shell that was once someone I knew. A kid who's spirit will fly between that flag and the beat of the drum the dead can hear so well.