Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Honored Dead Return Home At Last

Today, I joined my mother and several other kinfolk in greeting my great uncle Kenneth Holm's remains at the airport. Great Uncle Kenneth was an enlisted man aboard the U.S.S. Oklahoma when the Imperial Japanese Navy attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, and died in the line of duty. His remains rested there on Battleship Row until recently when they were found and identified along with many of his shipmates. This is the third such repatriation this year, as many on the Oklahoma were from Minnesota and Wisconsin.

My uncle Blair Holm, wearing his full dress uniform from his Marine days, accompanied the U.S. Navy escort on the flight into Minneapolis. We met the fight on the tarmac as it came in, and witnessed the U.S. Navy detail assigned to escort his remains off the plane. He will lie in state at the funeral home overnight, and then be buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetary tomorrow afternoon. Once I have photos and video to share, I'll post a follow-up to do just that.

I am fortunate that I neither saw nor heard not one note of complaint from anyone about anything throughout the entire event. No one on the plane complained about having to wait for the escorts or the casket to disembark before anyone else. No one in the concourse had a word or gesture of disdain. No one on the road tried to break our procession; most people made way without being asked, and several got out and saluted as we passed by--city workers, residents, commuters, young, old, etc.--which I found touching. A manager at a McDonald's even comped my uncle's order and a worker at a Michael's store gave us the best discount he could for my uncle's purchase (he needed a frame for a photo of my great uncle). This is a level of respect, gratitude, and decency I don't see enough anymore.

Tomorrow my great uncle will be buried with full honors, as he is due by right of his sacrifice in the line of duty. This too will occur over the midday, and I will be present to witness it. The American nation cannot afford to forget what made it, and the country it made, great.

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