Monday, July 11, 2011

My Memorial Sunday Away

I thought I put this up a month ago! Well, here it finally is -- I've got to get better about keeping this blog more current! It seems that life is getting in the way of writing...

My Memorial Sunday Away

In Memoriam
Capt. Joshua S. Meadows, USMC
1979 – 2009
KIA, Farah Province, Afghanistan

            We (about 50 of us) drove about 30 minutes from the wilderness campsite up rocky roads, parked and then hiked/climbed another 200 or so yards from the top of a West Texas mountain out onto a promontory that on three sides hung over a very deep canyon, hundreds of feet down. As we gathered around a mound of rocks that held an American flag at half-staff, four WWII trainer planes did a flyover, disappeared into the distance, then came back around and directly over us did the missing man formation. Thomas Meadows, a Murchison Middle School student and son of one of Josh’s cousins, played taps on his bass clarinet.
            I read scriptures about eternal life from The Committal (page 501, BCP) then spoke of how we were gathered to honor Josh, to place a plaque on “Pop’s Peak” in remembrance, and to release his remains, his ashes, back to the earth. I prayed the beautiful prayer also found on pg. 501 and then we all prayed the Lord’s Prayer.
            Josh’s uncle Henry told the family history of “Pop’s Peak”: how their father/grandfather/great-grandfather had loved that peak and how they had climbed it many times. Directly underneath the peak is a cave once used by Indians. Henry related how Josh, as a ten-year-old, had been down there with his grandfather and found potsherds, arrowheads and points. He then explained that after Henry, Sr. died, they’d placed a bronze plaque into the stone, and when Josh’s father, Robert died, they did the same for him. Now Josh has a plaque there, which would be unveiled at the end of the service. Then Henry turned on the music, playing tunes that were reflective of the Meadows family’s heritage: Celtic, American, Southern, and Marine.
            As the music faded, Angela (Josh’s wife) and his sister, Erin, joined together on the side of the cliff and speaking softly to one another; they took handfuls of his ashes and let the wind carry them away out over the valley. Jan, Josh’s mom, held his little daughter, Olivia Claire, who was born just weeks after her Daddy died.
            Then, Patrick (Josh’s cousin who arranged the ceremony) and Jan removed the Marine flag from Josh’s plaque so all could see. Angela took Olivia, and they knelt by the plaque. Little Olivia patted the plaque and said “Daddy,” and I couldn’t stop my tears from falling, along with many others around me. Then as Thomas played taps once again, we began the trek back to the parking area.
            Before we left the top of the mountain, about 25 or 30 people took their guns out of their trucks (including at least 4 automatic weapons) and proceeded to give Josh what was “billed” as a 2100 gun salute, shooting out over the canyon for quite some time. It was the perfect finish to Josh’s memorial. I was so very honored to be a participant. Josh is a hero, having saved the lives of all of the men with him when he covered their retreat. Josh was the only casualty of the fire team he commanded. He was an amazing young man. The world is lesser for his loss and heaven is blessed to have him.

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