Today a member of our family, a cousin, is being buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Harry was a career member of the Navy who was proud of his country and proud to commit himself to serving for over 31 years. He was an active man, a lifelong athlete and sportsman who, just as he was about to reach that age when he could slow down with his wife, children, and grandchildren was cut down by that insidious disease ALZ.
Almost to the end, Harry was active. His wife, Audrey, would take him to the gym and other participants there would talk with him and marvel at his physical ability. But his mind was slipping. Slowly, like a combatant he could not conquer, ALS robbed him of most of his mental capacity. It was heartbreaking to watch from afar, to know what the family was going through, but through it all they were there with him, strong, loving, caring, and taking care of him.
Somewhere along the way, Harry decided that he wanted to write his own obituary. Here is a part of it.
"This has been a wonderful life! I have had the privilege to serve our great country for over 31 years from the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam to Desert Storm (First Gulf War); I have sailed in every sea and Ocean on the planet except the Antarctic; and have had the honor to serve with the best sailors and Marines in the world. To my shipmates, Fair Winds and Following Seas...to my Marines, Semper Fi! A man is blessed to have a loving family and faithful friends, I have been such a man."
CAPTAIN HARRY E. BAILEY US NAVY, retired, died on March 9, 2016 from Alzheimer's. The family has been waiting for his turn to be honored with burial in our nation's most revered military cemetery since that day. Today, December 1, 2016 is that day.
During the wait I have learned many things about burial in Arlington. The cemetery conducts funerals Monday through Saturday, conducting between 27 and 30 services each week day and between 6 and 8 services on Saturday. I have learned that the process is long and complex, for many deserve the honor. Arlington schedules services based upon available cemetery and military resources. It can take months, as in Harry's case March 9 to December 1.
During each family's long wait others are being honored, and in the true manner of military, the family waits once more for their military loved one to come home and rest. So today is Harry's day.
With aching hearts, we were not able to make the trip, but the family knows and understands that the hearts of the Smith and Knox families are with them.
Rest in peace dear Harry. Now join your brothers in sisters in eternal peaceful slumber.