ED. NOTE: Brandy Wright is a journalism student of Dispatch editor Ed Ackerman at Luzerne County Community College. She wrote this for a class and Ed suggested she enter it into a contest. He writes about it today on page 2.
I don't know their names; they don't know mine.
I don't know their history; they don't know ours.
I don't even know what branch of military they belonged to and all they knew was that my father had served.
What I do know is they were there.
A small group of veterans at my dad's funeral.
Of all his military stories, the best was his version of how I came into his life. He had transferred to an Air Force base in Wiesbaden, Germany and upon arrival, his commanding officer offered him this unique statement: You know, every soldier stationed here leaves with either a BMW…or a baby. That's just the way it is.
My father left with both.
I was born while our family was overseas and my name is Brandy Melissa Wright. Thus, the BMW.
He spent eight years of his life serving in the United States Army. He was told how to live, where to work, when to eat, who to talk to, and even what to wear.
There was no calling in sick.
There were times my mother was, in a sense, raising us alone.
He was proud, however, to have served.
We all were.
When he passed away a few weeks ago, my mother met with a Veteran's Affairs representative about any military benefits he was entitled to.
He respectfully informed her that due to a loophole, he only qualified for a $100 funeral benefit from the county. Because he had served during peacetime only.
I was only three when he got out of the Army and moved back home. I vaguely recall the friends we met along the way. Some have kept in touch and have called from all over the world with their sympathy.
Military life, in general, is still somewhat of a mystery to me.
So was the day of his funeral and the whirlwind afterwards.
These amazing people showed up at a time of sorrow to honor a fellow comrade, a man they had never met. Their professionalism, love of their country, and lack of political agenda was refreshing.
And their respect for my mother was something that I hadn't expected. It made this whole process a little more bearable.
The reverent manor in which they handled the flag that hung over the side of the casket was like watching someone with their most prized possession. Gentle. Calculated.
Then, the hollow echo of the twelve bullets fired strategically into the air, signifying his rank and branch of service during the three volley shot. A simple sound that will forever mean so much, a gesture from complete strangers that reached the deepest part of my heart.
From my father, I thought I learned what love was. Although, it wasn't until his funeral that I truly knew.
The bond these veterans had with my father is one I'll never fully understand. But I appreciate it.
It didn't matter to them whether he served during wartime or peacetime. He was one of them.
These amazing people showed up at a time of sorrow to honor a fellow comrade, a man they had never met.