One last posting
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on May 28, 2012 1:46 PM
American Legion Post 11 Chaplain Henry Jinnette transfers nine members of the veterans' organization into Post Everlasting on Sunday afternoon. The ceremony, held annually on Memorial Day weekend, is conducted to immortalize those members of the Legion who have died during the past year.
This empty table represents the fallen members of American Legion Post 11 who will never again, in body, join their comrades for fellowship inside the Legion dining hall.
DUDLEY -- They had heard these particular sounds before -- a gavel striking an old wooden table; rifles being crisply maneuvered during the presentation of arms; a bugler playing taps.
But when those familiar noises echoed off the walls inside the county's aging American Legion headquarters Sunday afternoon, they served as a poignant reminder that nine men would never hear them again.
So when, in darkness, their names were read aloud, many of those who had gathered for the Legion's most solemn ceremony shed tears.
They found themselves, again, saying goodbye.
"Our Heavenly Father, in his infinite wisdom, has transferred these comrades to the jurisdiction of Post Everlasting," said Legion Chaplain Henry Jinnette. "May their souls rest in peace."
For members of a veterans organization created after the First World War, Memorial Day weekend is about more than honoring those who have fallen in combat.
It is also a chance to immortalize those men and women who passed long after they hung up their uniforms -- members of the Legion whose bodies succumbed to age and illness.
So before he recognized comrades lost this past year, Post 11 Commander David Van Wormer told those in attendance to remain silent.
"This moment is sacred," he said. "We have come to honor the memory of those who have offered their lives in the service of our country -- and who now are enrolled in the great spirit colony."
A colony known, simply, as Post Everlasting.
Jinnette bows his head before the first name is read.
He sets a card that says "Jack Tarbox" ablaze -- and places it in a small metal bowl.
The flames and smoke, he and his comrades believe, represent the soul of the departed climbing to its place among more sacred ranks.
The chaplain repeats the process for Russell Duff and Harold Armstrong -- then Robert Burdon, Don Harrell, Walter Ivey, John Smith and Eugene Doss.
And after the final name, Monier Mitchell, is placed in that vessel -- and the flame reaches its peak -- the "transfer" is complete.
"Their souls go marching on," Van Wormer says. "Because of them our lives are free. Because of them, our nation lives."