Today, I attended the funeral of a man who worked with a private security company in Iraq. We knew Jim and his family back when our oldest two children were very young, attending the same church. His family was close to my brother's family, their kids all grew up and went to school and church together. He and a coworker were killed just over a week ago in Iraq by a roadside bomb. My niece said that her husband, who is back in Iraq for his second tour, heard the explosion that day.
Jim was a former Marine, a police officer, and in the last decade or so, has been a part of helping with security in many countries; Afghanistan, Qatar, Iraq, and Bosnia. I think he worked in Saudi Arabia, as well.
His son, Chris was in the Navy. He was killed by a drunk driver two years ago while back on his two-week leave from his deployment in Iraq.
Several moments from the day stuck out to me. A young man who is in the army, who called Jim his second father, wanted passionately to speak with us, as much for the cause as he wanted to speak at the service because of his love for his comrade. He very earnestly said to us all that He believes in what we're doing in Iraq. He said that Jim believed with his whole heart in the mission, as well.
Jim'a favorite passage from the Bible is in the Beatitudes in Matthew, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God." He felt that was his calling in life, to be a peacemaker, walking into turmoil and conflict, when and where others needed help.
Two Marines performed the flag-unfolding/folding ceremony. I could not keep the tears from streaming. Few people could. After one of the Marines presented the flag to Jim's wife, the other played Taps on the bugle. Next, we watched and listended as man played "Amazing Grace" on the bag pipes, from the foyer, up the isle, and back out again, walking slowly as he played. Very solemn, very reverent. Very moving.
While that was special, the most tear-jerking moments were during a sweet slide-show (complete with music) of his life, his family, kids/grandkids, and pictures from his work as a Marine, police officer, and security worker.
We have much for which to thank men like Jim, maybe the least of which is our ability to carry on with our lives, shopping and watching movies, going to sports events, the symphony, living our busy, fulfilling, overscheduled days, because of their work to keep us a free nation, free from attack since 9/11, relatively free from fear.
Thank you...Jim, who is now passed, Mike and Ken, family and friends in Iraq...and all the others...we're praying for you.