Friday, February 09, 2007

Day FIVE...Why I'm stressed out...

Several folks have made good-natured wisecracks at me in reply to my blogs, and they've received VERY nasty responses from me.

I apologize.

I know you guys only tease out of love.

While I cannot EXCUSE my conduct, allow me, please, to EXPLAIN my conduct.

Let me begin first with these words...known as "The Sentinel's Creed":

My dedication to this sacred duty
Is total and whole-hearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me
Never will I falter.
And with dignity and perseverance
My standard will remain perfection.
Through the years of diligence and praise
And the discomfort of the elements,
I will walk my tour in humble reverence
To the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect,
His bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day,
Alone in the thoughtful peace of night,
This soldier will in honored glory rest
Under my eternal vigilance.

These words are the words we live by in Funeral Honors. While, yes, this is the inscription on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the words and the sentiment applies to all soldiers of Military Funeral Honors. I refer everyone to line six...

"My standard will remain perfection."

This is not a combat duty. There are no allowances. There is no room for error. There is no such thing as "close enough".

I may have performed close to 100 funerals since October, but every time I'm out there, with every fold of the flag, or every trigger pull, or every step I take with the casket, I remind myself that it might be my 100th funeral, but for the deceased and the family of the deceased, this is a one-time occurrence. Those who have served deserve no less than perfection.

This is the most important job I've ever had, and it means more to me than almost anything else in the world. I WILL maintain the standard.

So...yeah...I come back to my room at night and I'm unwinding and stressed out from training over and over and over all day, and I read some trite little comment from my friends, and I feel as if the weight of my mission...of my SWORN being belittled. I should know better, but when you're immersed in it, it's not so easy to come down from that, and I snark off at you.

I'm sorry.

I am one of the Silent Sentinels. It is my solemn honor...nay, my PRIVELEGE to escort those fallen warriors to the gates of their Valhalla. It is my job to provide comfort to the grieving family in the form of pride and dignity. And if it kills me, I will make sure that every corner I fold is crisp...that every casket I carry remains level and even...and that every volley I fire is in perfect synch.

My standard will remain perfection.

That's why, when members of the Old Guard salute an officer, our salutation is "Line Six, Sir!"

That's why I'm stressed...because I never cared this much before.

Bear with me.

"Line Six"


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