Earlier this year I attended a funeral for a World War II veteran. I knew from having talked with him over the years that he wanted a full military funeral. Not because he loved war, or what war represents. But because he answered the call that was put out to the world when tyranny and horror were being inflicted on innocent people. He was not a cavalier or prideful man. He was kind, soft hearted and willing to fight to protect. He wasn’t a fighter by nature. But he did fight because he believed he was needed. And he was proud of having done so because he believed in what he needed to do.
I never heard him speak arrogantly, or with any sense of entitlement. He was humble. He was hard working. He was as average as you and I. And yet he did something extraordinary.
His life was good. He was grateful for everything he had. He was grateful for everything he did.
There was gratitude in his heart for being able to serve America, serve the world, and survive it. Even being shot in the face, he survived.
I attended his funeral fully prepared for the military service. It was wonderful to see the friends and family who attended. The motorcycle club of veterans who rode up to honor him with their flags and their military salute. When the uniformed officer stood in the doorway of the vestibule I had tears knowing how much this would mean to our veteran.
When the service was over I waited for the 21 Gun Salute. But people were leaving. I asked when the 21 Gun Salute would be. I was told there would not be one. They didn’t have the people to perform it. I was heart broken. I knew he wanted this. I knew it didn’t matter to him. But to me, it mattered for him.
It has weighed heavily upon me ever since.
I don’t own a gun. So I couldn’t even go and give him my own private 21 Gun Salute. Or I would have. All I really have is thoughts and ideas. So in my very humblest way possible, I am giving him a 21 Gun Salute right here.
I looked up a little bit of information. I know that seven rifles are used and there are three volleys shot. So I drew seven different types of rifles. I tried to model my drawings after some of the World War II guns. My apologies for inaccuracies. Each gun is drawn individually. Each gun is drawn in memory of a kind and gentle man who only carried a gun to defend others.
It’s a small tribute to someone who was willing to sacrifice for many.