My Father’s Navy Memorial: An Act of Love in 2021

On June 14, 2021, approximately 7 months after my father had passed from this earthly realm, we laid his ashes to rest. It was, of course, a sad day, and when I heard Taps played by the Navy bugler, the haunting melody made me cry. Although my father was only in the Navy for four years, it was a big part of how he defined himself as a man and as an American citizen. Like many military men, I suspect, my father said he complained about his time while serving, but had nothing but fond memories about it as a civilian. My cousin, a former swabby himself, said this is a common phenomenon. 

A Navy Man After Service 

In fact, my father probably invested more time into the Navy as a civilian than he did as a sailor. He coordinated and facilitated multiple reunions for his ship, the USS Barry (DD-933). This was a particularly challenging endeavor, given my father did this largely without a computer.

I can still see the stacks of neatly written notes on yellow legal paper, peppered with sticky notes containing phone numbers, contacts, and hotel-reservation information. A particular distinction for my father was being an original crew member when the ship was launched on October 1, 1955. I have his plank certificate proudly hanging on my office wall.

The USS Barry (DD 933)

And though I have many fond (and some not-so-fond) memories of my dad, I will always remember the beautiful and dignified manner in which the Navy honor guard folded the flag and presented it to my son, who was noticeably humbled by the act. It was more than just the precision with which they handled and folded the Stars and Stripes, though that was impressive.

It was the profound sense of care and respect the sailors infused in their task. It felt as though they were handling my dad’s very essence, his personage, and they did it with honor, respect, and an understated but very real sensitivity.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, an act of love I will never forget. 

And there is an inherent lesson I think we should all take away from this. We get in such an awful rush to just get things done, we forget about the beauty and sanctity of the moment. Instead, have some reverence for things that are important, even, if not especially, the little things.

Whether it’s honoring your country, performing your job, writing a letter, or crafting a song, take care of it as if it was a living, breathing thing. Honor the details and the spirit of the event or situation. Invest your heart into the moment. Because at the end of the day, dignity and honor are forms of love, and it may be the very thing that sustains you in your darkest hour, as you hear the familiar sound of the bugle calling. 



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