There is a traditional toast to those departing a seafaring command. It is akin to the Irish landsman’s blessing: “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rain fall softly on your fields. And until we meet again, May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.”
We are asking God to hold someone in the hollow this morning, but the request to the Almighty is properly cast in the nautical manner: “To you we wish Fair Winds to fill your sails to make best advance, and the swell of the vast sea to your stern for a steady and stable journey as far as you may go.”
Too many obits this week, and this is the saddest one. Paying tribute to old warriors is one thing, treasuring their legacy of valor. Mourning those who gave their lives in the service of our nation’s flag is more poignant. The death to which I refer is a battlefield casualty.
I will not include what I wrote this morning, since I need to respect the family and will ask their permission before I do anything with it.
But to die at 46 with a family left behind is beyond anything I can contemplate rationally.
Our shipmate will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His untimely passing highlights the struggles our returning veterans confront, and the passion with which those of us who are left behind must support our wounded warriors. His obituary and tribute will be posted when approved bu the family. Details of the interment are undetermined but will be promulgated as they become available.
Fair winds, Shipmate. And Following Seas.