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A veteran is laid to rest

By Tamara Sheffield

Special to the Salisbury Post

With Memorial Day here, I can’t help but think about the veterans I have known. Most of these have been friends I have made over the years. To my knowledge, I have not had a family member die while serving in the U.S. military, which is the reason for this federal holiday. However, any opportunity to honor and remember anyone who has served should not be overlooked.

Growing up, I didn’t have a family of military history like many other families with the time-honored tradition of serving. One uncle and one cousin is all that I can recall in both my parents’ lineage. My uncle served in Guam and New Guinea  and shared some stories. Mostly he taught me how to play poker on my grandparents’ porch. My cousin was in the Air Force. They lived in Mississippi and we in Tennessee, so I knew little about his career — except remembering how handsome he looked when I saw him in his gleaming white uniform.

Last May, I attended a friend’s brother’s funeral. It was held at the National Cemetery here in Salisbury with full military honors. I was blown away and touched by the reverence and respect of honor and tradition. It gave comfort to all the family and friends who were there.

My father-in-law (Jay Mee) recently passed away, and he was a Korean War veteran. He was awarded the Korean Ambassador of Peace Medal from the South Korean government. He shared some pictures from that time, but the most memorable story was that he would never go camping. According to him, after a year living in a tent for the Army, he had spent enough time camping.

We had a grave-side military honor for my father-in-law. Taps was played and the America flag draped his casket. There was the artistic folding of the flag ceremony, and military service members were asked to stand to be recognized. One person standing on the front row in salute of the flag was a visibly shaken man. His salute had a tremble, and he was relying on his cane for support. I could see as I stood behind him the tear trail down his cheek. It was Jay’s brother. While the flag was being folded to present to Jay’s wife, I witnessed the kindest act. My mother-in-law asked for the flag to be presented to Jay’s younger brother, who was a war veteran as well. Needless to say, that action was heartfelt by everyone there.

So on Memorial Day, remember those who have fallen in service to our country and please remember to embrace the ones that are here and thank them for service.

Tamara Sheffield lives in Salisbury.

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