George and Mary Vance Wickstrom--I barely knew you. But I was honored to be invited to your funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. George and Mary were my cousin Walter’s parents. George served as a Captain in the Armored Cavalry during WWII and saw combat in France and Germany, including the Battle of the Bulge. Although George lost his vision many years ago, he and Mary led a busy life and retired in 2000 to be near my cousins in Tonasket, Washington.
Mary passed away in 2006, followed by George in 2013, and arrangements were made for a military funeral with full honors at Arlington National Cemetery. It was to take place while I was in Washington, DC for my niece’s bat mitzvah, and when I was invited to attend I immediately accepted. George and Mary were to be interred with George’s first wife, Bonnie, and their son, Greig.
It was a beautiful day in Arlington. I joined the extended family group for the excursion. We were awed by the spectacle. The procession was accompanied by a huge band, horses, caisson, a flag-covered casket. We silently followed on foot through the cemetery. Lots of uniformed officers with white gloves. A firing party. An intricate folding and presentation of the flag to Walter. Beautiful words remembering George and Mary by the Rev. Rachelle Birnbaum, who knew them well. The mood was somber, but not too teary. Poignant and funny George and Mary stories were exchanged on the bus back to the hotel. Thank you to Walter’s family for including me. It was a huge honor.