Friday, October 10, 2014

Jeremiah Andrew Denton, Jr.: Burial at Arlington National Cemetary

There may be more appropriate pictures of my Dad, but this is one of my favorites.  That's a pretty intense gaze.   I have a 10 x 12 of it in my house and it's kind of like the Mona Lisa the way he seems to be looking at me where ever I go.  The man with him is Capt. James Mulligan, his beloved friend and Alcatraz mate.  Jim Mulligan's presence at Dad's funeral gave me perhaps more comfort than anyone else who attended.

I wish I could return to July 22 and experience Dad's burial at Arlington National Cemetery again. I'd like to have been more in the moment, more spiritually-minded, more in tune with my father.  As it was, in retrospect, I realize that I was somewhat caught up in the pageantry, the awareness of family and long-time friends, the presence of Dad's fellow POWs,  the import of his military history, to settle my thoughts and feel a full connection with the man, my father, who was being honored.  It was to my detriment.  You know, I take that back.  I'm glad my thoughts were open to being acutely aware of the whole experience.  There were special people there, in a special place, and to have focused entirely on my memories of him would've shut that experience out.  Heaven knows, the amount of deep thought I devote to him and my birth family teeters right on the edge of Unhealthy as it is.

This Washington Post article describes the day.  I prefer to save my most personal observations and feelings about the day for a scrapbook where I can truly let loose.

My father's widow, Mary Belle, accepting the burial flag at gravesite, after being escorted on the mile walk from the Old Chapel.  The lei, on the casket, was placed there by a woman who had worn Dad's POW bracelet as a child and travelled from Hawaii to attend his funeral.

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