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Jim's Jottings

A bugler's taps at a military funeral so final

May 12, 2010 - A bugler's taps at a military funeral so final

Our friend Jim Dafoe chose Great Lakes National Cemetery, in Holly, for his final resting place.

Michigan has two National cemeteries, Holly and Battle Creek. In November 2002, the National Cemetery Association Department of Veterans Affairs, paid $6.2 million for the 544 acres, now run by the Great Lakes National Cemetery Advisory Council.

Currently about 121 acres of land are developed.

The emotions of this veteran (me) visiting the cemetery last week were both inspirational and depressing.

Entering the Avenue of Flags, 100 flagpoles donated by various service clubs and community groups, inspires patriotism.

The thought that this much land, in just this location is being readied for so many who will be giving their lives for our country is saddening.

The cemetery is not just for veterans. Spouses and dependent children can also have sites.

The Avenue of Flags runs to the administration building and on to committal areas and the "scatter" garden for ashes.

Another depressing moment, for me, came when I saw the hundreds of white headstones aligned perfectly, militarily.

Services are held primarily in pavilions off the Avenue. They average 14 funerals a day.

There is no cost to veterans, spouses or children for the gravesite opening, closing, stones, perpetual care or grave liner.

The property is immaculate, lush-green trimmed and respected. Here's a little of how respected: Shayna was in need of relief when we got there. I drove around until I found a muddy road leading nowhere and stopped. I just got my car door open when a man in a tiny truck yelled, "You can't stop here!"

I reasoned, "My dog has to pee."

He, very gruffly said, "You can't pee on Federal property!"

Wonder if all the protesters at the Washington Mall know that?

Otherwise we were treated with respect and dignity as their brochure says.

Back to the services. VFW members (Jim belonged to both the VFW and American Legion) read the tribute, 21 shots were fired, then the bugler sounded taps.

That was emotional for me.

So final.

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If I was asked to define a human being, I think I'd say Ernie Harwell. Here was a man of humility, warmth, sense of humor and generosity. Pages of newspapers have extolled his virtues. Hours of radio and television time have been given to praise his life.

The attention paid to this man, and deserved by this man, cannot be overdone. No man is without a fault, but Ernie Harwell certainly had the fewest of anyone in my memory.

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• Sometimes I wish we were still in the horse and buggy days. Days when our presidents didn't use every disaster to benefit them politically.

• Wonder if our enemies are using the U.S. Postal Service's Priority Mail "If it fits it ships" to do their bad deeds?

• When I started in this newspaper business it was determined unethical for lawyers to advertise. Their association forbid it. Wonder if it was newspaper lobbyists who campaigned for the change, or the attorneys themselves? Regardless, is where their advertisements are now seen something lower than journalism?

• A 1782 hair grower: "Take ye head, those among ye who may be bald, and rub that part morning and evening with onions till it is red: then rub with honey."

Jim Sherman, Sr. is president of Sherman Publications, Inc. He has penned "Jim's Jottings" since 1955.
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