Recently Kish and I went to a funeral service for a veteran. The service featured the presentation of the colors. It reminded me, yet again, of the extraordinary power of ceremony in our lives.
In this instance, the presentation of the colors ceremony was performed by three Marines. It was accomplished deliberately, in complete silence, and with great dignity and respect. The three Marines walked down the center aisle of the church at stately pace and retrieved a folded flag from the altar. They slowly unfolded it so that the flag was fully unfurled when Taps was played. The Marines then carefully refolded the flag, presented it to each other, and slowly saluted the colors before presenting the folded flag to the widow and walking slowly out of the church. This simple ceremony was the culmination of the service and was a deeply felt moment for everyone present in the church.
In this case, the man who had passed was a true hero — a Marine who had fought and suffered grievous, life-threatening injuries in the Battle of Okinawa, recovered, and returned to normal life to make enormous contributions to his family, his community, and his profession. How can you adequately recognize the personal sacrifices that he, and his fellow veterans, have made on behalf of us all? Ceremony provides us with a means of accomplishing what mere words cannot. The presentation of the colors, performed with appropriate silence, gravity and care, is a powerful way to demonstrate our esteem and gratitude for those who have served.