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Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Memorial Ceremony

Tonight we had a memorial ceremony for one of my Soldiers who was killed last week. For privacy reasons, I will not post his name on here, but suffice it to say that he was a great Soldier, and a great young man. The other Soldiers in his unit have done an incredible job during a very difficult week. Last week, when he was killed, we spent most of the night up, with the Soldiers consoling each other, telling stories, laughing, crying and so on. Then, at the break of dawn, we did the ramp ceremony. This is when the helicopter comes to take his body. The company lines the road to the chopper, and his body is brought down similar to a funeral processional. The chaplain (me) then says a few words, and prays. His body was then placed on the helicopter, and the Soldiers salute until the helicopter is out of sight. It was tear-jerker.

So tonight was the memorial ceremony. This ceremony is different than a funeral and includes things such as a invocation, Scripture reading, rememberances from fellow Soldiers, a message from the chaplain, a benediction and the last roll call, volley and taps. The last roll call involves the Soldier's First Sergeant calling off three names, as though they are taking roll. The first two names are Soldiers who are present. The third name is the deceased Soldier. His name is called three times, and after the third time, there are three shots fired, and then taps is played. Again, it is a tear jerker.

The Army does well in honoring the dead. We cherish every Soldier and hate to lose a single one. What amazes me even more is that his friends- the guys he went out on patrol with every day- went right back out the day after he was killed and continued to do their job. I can't convey how much I respect them.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Mom said...

Chris, I am sitting here at my desk at work - with goosebumps and tears! I can see the wonderful comradarie and closeness all of you must feel, being in a hostile, faraway place! It's an important thing to hold onto - that close-knit feeling!

I love you and miss you and pray for all of you!!

Mom

11:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keep up the good, difficult and messy work of Kingdom Ministry. You are running a great race. God's blessing to all of you. I and my children thank you. - A mother of four in MN.

5:46 PM  

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