Thursday, February 11, 2010

Went to a friends funeral on Tuesday.

He was a colleague of mine from way back. A man I've known and taught along side for at least fifteen years. As you may remember from the earlier post, his name was Arthur Trijillo.

You can click back to this other post and read about him, and my feelings for him. I just wanted to share a few images from his service. You can also click here and see the obituary and comments that were published in the local paper.

The funeral was held at St. Joseph's, a big Catholic church on the northeast side of town. The place was filled, wall to wall, with people like me who'd known or worked with Arthur. I felt that was a wonderful testament to the character of the man I knew. He's gonna be missed by a lot of folks.

Not being Catholic, it seemed there was a lot of up and down goin' on in the service. Get up and pray, sit down and sing, get up to pray... for about an hour. There was a little kneeling too, but I didn't join in on that. It was a wonderful service, with Arthur's son-in-law giving a great eulogy. he had us all laughin' and cryin', remembering ol' Arthur.

After the funeral, the internment ceremony was held at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. It's a beautiful place south of town. I pass by it every day on the way to teach my classes in Florence.

I'd say about half of the folks who came to the church also drove out to the cemetery. We stood there as the soldiers lifted Arthur's flag draped casket and brought it out under the shade of the atrium. The gentleman in the officers cap on the right is Arthur's son-in-law, who gave that great eulogy. He's a local police officer. Arthur's widow, Minerva, is on the left, in the tan coat and black shawl.

As the priest from the church finished the services, Arthur lay there before us, covered in the flag he served so well for so long. After the soldiers uncovered the coffin and folded the flag, the soldier you see there on the left knelt down to Minerva and offered the flag to her, "with the gratitude of a grateful nation."

I tell ya, it was all I could do to keep from openly weeping. Of course, as always, I find myself, in these sorts of reflective moments, drifting off to thoughts of my father, my uncles, and all the others that are no longer here with me. I wanted to get a picture of that moment, but I thought it would be too much of an intrusion.

As the service ended, the soldiers took up their positions and fired the salute. I decided to film it. You can see the video here.

I was concentrating so much on getting everything in the frame, nervous about filming at a funeral, that the first shot jolted me, but I steadied up after that. I was curious in the moment about the tinny sound of the trumpet, and that the soldier was fiddling with there before he blew Taps.

Turns out, after viewing the video, he wasn't really "blowing" taps at all. He was playing a recording, with the trumpet at his lips as if he's playing it. I was shocked. They don't really play friggin' Taps any more? Damn! When did that start?

Anyway, after the service was over I went home, changed out of my suit and took my little lady out to a late lunch. Chinese food. The cooks at the Great Wall Cafe were in rare form. The Generals chicken and shrimp fried rice were excellent, and will soon be again, when I get a chance to kill the leftovers.

After that I took Denise back to work and headed over to the base to teach my evening classes. Of course, I was thinkin' a lot about Arthur that evening, and my colleagues and I spent a good bit of time talking about him. We probably will for a while.

Anyway, that's the story. Arthur's gone now, but I bet I'll think of him every time I drive by the State Veterans Cemetery on the way to Florence, and I see that flag at half mast.

Rest in peace buddy. Cheers!


Sarge Charlie said...

You mad me cry again....

Sarge Charlie said...

That damn recorded taps is just a slap in the face, it started during the Clinton Years.

I did a post last may 24th about this disgrace and have reposted in honor your friend today, check it out.

Suldog said...

God bless your friend, and you.

FHB said...

Sarge - I'm sorry buddy. Didn't mean to make you cry again. And that Taps post was great. Thanks for the link.

Sully - Thanks man. I appreciate it.

Jill D. said...

Mr. T passed? Damn, I wish I was still in Texas and would have known. He was a wonderful man. I would have gone to his funeral if I was there.
What happened?