The word went out yesterday afternoon.We set our alarm clocks and gathered at the funeral home before breakfast on this Labor Day.



In addition to two first-timers, our group included family friends of our soldier.



But mostly, we came because he was part of our greater family.



Hales Cornersí finest were dressed like Marine officers.



WISRCSE briefed and read Kevinís PGR prayer.



And then the army provided a second prayer.

(This was taken just before he began.)



And then we led the hearse and family to General Mitchell Airport.



It rained slightly and the sky was dark, but the horizon was bright.



Signature people walked out onto the tarmac.



Jim followed them.



We followed him.



We formed two lines.



And then the Lear Jet from Kalitta Charters appeared on the runway.



It taxied to our formation.



Waiting were soldiers, PGRiders, Hales Corners police, Hartson funeral Home personnel and the family of Chad Derek Coleman.



We stood silently.


We saluted during the transfer.


We will return tomorrow.



When I first arrived, I was taking photos and standing away from our group.I noticed one member of the family taking a photo of us, so I went over to him to give him the link to my photos.I learned he was Chadís grandfather.In the course of our short conversation, speaking of our group, he said to me:


ďChad would have loved this.Ē


And that was before we did anything.













The Day After The First Monday In September.


Yesterday was Labor Day and today is funeral day.Yesterday I saw a sailor climb out of the Lear Jet with Chad.Today I learned that he is a family neighbor.



When the time came, Tom called us together.



I didnít say the Pledge.Iíve said it before.It still goes.



We donít usually go inside.Sometimes we bring a signed card, a quilt, a plaque.


But mainly, we just bring Old Glory.



Throughout all human history, wars were fought for the glory of a general or a king Ė until two-and-a-third centuries ago.At that time, for the first time in history, a war was fought by the people for the people.The oldest constitutional republic on Earth is still going strong.Old Glory is her flag and represents her values and the sacrifices made in service of those values.It is the most special flag on Earth.


It is never flown low.Never.


Except for her fallen soldiers.



Killed or missing from WWII:Navy, 62,614.Marines, 24,511.Coast Guard, 1,917.Merchant Marine, 9,521.


Army and Army Air Force, 318,274 of which some 70 thousand never came home.



We bring them all home now, and most return home alive.But all throughout human history, all people of Earth have been threatened by war.For the last two-and-a-third centuries however, the people of Old Glory have pioneered a new path.We have offered ourselves as an example of a better way.And a few among us, the best among us, have offered themselves ďthat this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.Ē



The sun was setting.The young soldiers marched forward to join Chad inside.We stood outside, showing Old Glory.



And then came the time for us to march.We formed in the rear of the property, within view of those inside through the windows and the sliding glass doors.



A soldier was speaking inside.We were standing outside.



Another soldier.We couldnít hear but we knew what was being said.



Another soldier.And then it was time.



The young soldiers had slipped out of the service, found their rifles and joined us behind the building.



Seven rifles fired three volleys.Then, Taps.



And then, in the failing light, the young soldiers moved past our line and back inside through the sliding glass doors.



They would fold Old Glory and present it to Chadís parents.



Our great cause has taken their only child.An American flag, carefully folded by her soldiers, is the most valuable symbol they could be given in exchange.