Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Year Has Passed Since Leif's Memorial Services on April 29, 2009

It's so hard to believe that a year ago today we gathered at Bay Pines National Cemetery for Leif's military honors ceremony and inurnment. It was a beautiful spring day, just like today, the kind of day he would have been out riding his cycle if he were alive and free.

We were a small gathering of family and friends, just 29 of us, a fraction of those who were with us in spirit that day, whether on the vigil of the ZAON forums or around the country and the world, who could not join us. We were immensely grateful for those who were with us on that sad, hard day.

Leif identified himself as a warrior. Being a soldier was a major part of his identity, and it was fitting and right that he was honored as a veteran and inurned with his brothers in arms. Bay Pines is a beautiful place, but it is also an infinitely sad place for me.

In the coming days I will post more about this ceremony and the church ceremony that followed it. These photos were taken before ceremony started. The first one shows Leif's father, Peter W., carrying the "urn," the wooden box that he decorated with Leif's military insignia. It holds all the earthly remains of our son, a box that wouldn't have begun to contain him even as a newborn baby.

We had to deliver the urn to the cemetery office so that the honor guard could take it and have it in place at the place of remembrance before we all gathered there.

The second photo is of us, Leif's parents, walking from the cemetery office to greet those who had come for the ceremony.

The third photo is one of the entire group of us, except for Dave Keesey, who took the group photo for us.

The fourth photo is Leif's three best friends from the early 1990s, Michael, Nikko (who was also the only wife Leif had), and Jason. Leif met Jason his senior year in high school, 1992-1993. Jason came from Manhattan, Kansas to be with us for the services. Nikko came all the way from Germany where she was serving in the U.S. Army. She and Leif met the summer of 1994 (I think it was 1994 and not 1993). MIchael met Leif in 1993 at Kansas State University. Michael came from central Florida to be with us. He had helped us to clear out Leif's apartment and much more. Leif would have been very touched to know they cared enough to be there.

From our gathering outside the cemetery office, we went to the small place of remembrance where there were benches under a covered area open on the sides to begin the ceremony.

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