We got home last night about 8:00, after a long but fun trip across the long state of South Dakota.
Norm, Candy and I have traveled over 2,800 miles in 10 days, so we are all glad to be home and will NOT travel again for a long time!
Last week, of course, we went to Oklahoma for my brother’s memorial service then this week we were in Rapid City for his Inurnment in the Black Hills National Cemetery. This week, Joy, Ken and the girls rode with Norm and I; Candy and Wayne rode separately.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon and left Norm with his brother at the ranch to “play.” The rest of us went to Norm’s sister’s. Eileen had graciously offered to host us for the length of our stay. As we had 6 people and only 1 vehicle, that made it very convenient for us.
Sunday afternoon we joined my parents and Candy and Wayne, who were staying there. I met my good friend, Nancy, for Chinese Buffet and a long talk while Joy and family went to Story Book Island for a picnic. Donna and her family (8 of them, all together) arrived on Sunday evening.
On Monday, my dad took Donna and her gang around the Southern Hills while my nephew CJ (Charles Joseph) joined us for the day. Eileen had made arrangements for the Peterson gang (all who were free - several had to do cattle work on their ranches) to meet at her house for a noon meal and get-together. It was great to see so many that I have not seen in several years! Norm arrived with his brother Darrell and wife Mavis to spend the rest of the time in town with us.
Monday night we threw CJ in the van with us - 7 people are pretty crowded, even though the van CAN carry 7 - and headed to the folks’ apartment. The meeting room had been rented and we had over 20 people - all family - for supper that night.
When I heard the sad news from CJ two weeks ago, I started spinning and knitting a prayer shawl for Donna and had finished it on Sunday ... so Joy and Eileen and the girls helped me wash it and block it; I gave it to Donna on Monday night - WHEW!! The fastest, biggest project I’ve ever done on needles and it turned out rather nice, if I don’t say so, myself!
Donna and I decided we needed an ice breaker to get Bitty and Bubba to being less shy and talking to her gang so I got some playing cards from the apartment and sat everyone under the age of 30 at a table and said “play something!” It worked ... the girls learned a new game and they had a lot of fun so were able to talk freely the rest of the time they were together.
Tuesday morning, we all met at the folks’ favorite restaurant for breakfast then caravanned out to the National Cemetery for the military service.
It is an awesome place and is very much like Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. A flag-lined lane led us to the chapel where the service was. When we got to the chapel, there were servicemen waiting for us and we (family) were saluted as we walked in. The cart that holds the coffin had only Charles’ urn and a folded flag; this flag normally goes over the coffin of a service man / woman during the service. After the minister from the folks’ church talked and said prayers, the impressive military service began.
I don’t know how many of you have attended one, but you have either seen one on TV news or seen one in a movie. The movie ones are very close to the real ones.
First of all, there was the gun salute - there were 7 soldiers, firing 3 times, making it a 21-gun salute. Then the Taps (OH! The Taps!!!).
I was reminded by someone that very few young people know the reason why Taps is played at military funerals. “Taps” is music that was written during the Civil War as a call for “lights out,” and was soon played at funerals. The words are:
Day is done, gone the sun,
From the hills, from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well, safely rest,
God is nigh.
In our case, the folded flag was unfolded to drape in the soldiers’ hands, then refolded - very quietly, very solemnly. The flag was then handed to Donna as the soldier that handed it to her spoke very quietly to her about Charles’ service to the nation.
As to his military service, here is a brief excerpt from Charles’ obituary:
During his military career he was awarded the Soldier's Medal, the Bronze Star, the Air Medal, the Combat Infantryman's Badge, was twice awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with a bronze star, and the Meritorious Service Medal.
He and Donna Edge were married Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, 2010, at Ardmore, OK. Survivors include his wife, Donna; his children, Charles J. Childs, Cheryl, Brian, Michael, Heather, and Aaron Edge; his parents, Charles and Grace Childs; sisters, Connie and husband Norman Peterson of Storden, Minn., and Candy and her husband Wayne Taft of Storden; and numerous nieces and nephews. A sister, Cara, preceded him in death.
After the service, we went to the folks' church where the church women had set up a lovely lunch for us. We were able to get some nice pictures of the family.
Donna and family headed out that afternoon; we headed out the next morning. I will write more about our trip home later on.
Rest in peace, Charles.