Sunday, February 19, 2006

All Give Some - Some Give All

On Friday morning, I attended the funeral service of Matthew Bertolino, a Marine who was stationed in Afghanistan. (See links below for more info.) Matthew was the younger brother of one of the young ladies where I work. Having a brother who also served in the Marine Corps gave us something in common, and sometimes stories to share and talk about. My brother never served in a combat zone, but I could relate to her sharing somewhat about fearing that your brother whom you spent your whole life growing up with, could suddenly be taken away from you. On Monday she got the dreaded call that everyone hoped would never come.

It's always tragic to lose a family member, but especially one so young. No parent should ever have to bury their child, and to lose a sibling at that age is like having a piece of yourself torn from you. I can only begin to imagine what that must be like and my heart goes out to his family.

It also reminds me of how much I need to take advantage of the time I do have with family and friends. Being 3,000 miles away from most of them is a hard thing, and I visit as often as I can and call at least one family member daily. God forbid that they should ever think I love them any less because I am so far away.

Funerals by nature are emotional events. A military funeral with full honors is something that is hard to convey without sounding trite. The absolute precision and care that the Marines gave to every detail was an honor befitting royalty. You've probably seen it in the movies, but nothing can perpare you for the perfect dichotomy of pride and ultimate sorrow conveyed in the proceedings. Even after hearing the officer shout, "Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for the salute!" the guns made me jump so raw was my emotional state. I don't think I've ever heard or seen anything so heartbreaking - the bugler playing "taps" while his family sobbed and leaned on each other.

I never got to meet Matthew, but seeing the love and emotion poured out during that service moved me deeply. By the end, I counted him as a brother and wished I could have met him. It would have been an honor.

Rest in peace, Matthew. And thank you for giving everything for us.

News Story from WMUR with Video
News Story from the Concord Monitor
News Story from the Union Leader

P.S. As inappropriate as it sounds, I couldn't but help notice I'm in the newsvideo in that first link, just for a moment.

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