5/28/2012

Remembering Our Honored Dead

I looked through the Weekend Pundit archives in search of an appropriate illustration for Memorial Day. Instead I came across this post from 2006 which related an event that we experienced that Memorial Day. The memory is as fresh as if it happened today and still makes me a little misty-eyed.

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It is Memorial Day.

It is a day to remember the honored dead, those who gave their lives to keep us free.

It often is a day of parades, memorial services, speeches, and memories.

This year, it was also the day of the funeral of Gilmanton, NH native PFC Nicholas R. Cournoyer, with 10th Mountain Division out of Fort Drum, New York. Nicholas died while serving in Iraq.

My family and I went to have breakfast at the Paugus Diner late this morning. As we were eating we saw a number of people carrying American flags gathering outside the entrance of the Bayside Cemetery in Laconia. Some folks in the diner thought that they must be getting ready for a Memorial Day parade. But one of the waitresses informed them that PFC Cournoyer was going to be laid to rest.

All I had to do was look at Deb and she knew what it is I wanted to do.

I quickly finished my meal, paid the check, and walked out to the road, joining a number of others there waiting for the funeral cort├Ęge to arrive. Deb and BeezleBub joined me a few minutes later once they finished their meals.

We heard the procession long before we saw it.

The rumble of dozens of motorcycles came closer, led by the Laconia and Belmont PD motorcycle units. A small number of cars followed them. And then, curiously, a white pickup truck with rock and roll music blaring from its windows approached. It wasn't until it was almost even with us that we could see that it carried the flag draped casket of PFC Cournoyer. Somehow the music seemed fitting. Someone in the crowd said that it was Nicholas' favorite.

A long white limousine followed the pickup close behind.

As the casket-bearing truck pulled even with us, Deb and BeezleBub put their hands over their hearts and I removed my hat and placed it over my heart. It was then that my vision blurred and I realized tears were running down my face. I looked to Deb and saw that she too was crying. I put my arm around her shoulders and pulled her close to me. We continued to watch the procession as it entered the cemetery. More than 200 vehicles filed past.

The parades, the speeches, the memorial services that denote Memorial Day became all the more poignant for the funeral of PFC Nicholas R. Cournoyer. For today, we remember the honored dead.