Memorial Ceremony for Major General Harold J. Greene, 13 August 2014

Reflections and images from today’s memorial service for Major General Greene. While the senior speakers Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff ofthe Army and others were eloquently sincere and expressed fine and endearing remarks about the life and profession of MG Greene, I would like to honor Harry Greene by relaying what I saw there in the auditorium attended by more than 300 people. A dark sober stage framed by dark blue curtains and empty except the podium composed of a single focal point of the soldier’s helmet capping an upturned rifle pointed downwards. A set of identification tags hangs loose above an empty set of tan combat boots. To the right in the place of honor is the flag of the United States of America and to the left – the flag of the US Army with all 183 battle streamers and immediately below a rolled general officer’s black leather belt with gold buckle (note left and right from the podiums view). The podium is covered with the bright red of a general officers flag and the brilliant white of the two stars signifying a Major General. MG Greene’s framed photograph rests alone upon this podium.

I think commemorative words are often lost on attendees but the images, music and ceremony of paying respect and saying goodbye always remains. Following commemorative remarks praising the general and recognizing his many significant contributions to the US Army, our nation, and his role as Deputy Commander of the Combined Security Transition Command – Afghanistan; the Pentagon Choir offered special music “You raise Me Up.” Pentagon Chaplain, COL Rutherford followed the special music with the benediction. The Chaplains’ remarks were brief and focused that “we come here today out of gratitude” and provided solace that “the just man who dies early will be at rest.” Following the benediction, the Command Sergeant Major approached the podium, turned and called out roll call. The first two names called were answered immediately from within the auditorium as “here!’ However, when the Command Sergeant Major called out for “Major General Greene,” only silence was heard. The Command Sergeant Major called again for “Major General Harold Greene,” and again only silence. The Command Sergeant Major called a third time for “Major General Harold Joseph Greene,” and was met with only silence for a last time. He then solemnly turned and slowly saluted. It was at this point with memorial ceremony almost complete that the lone bugler came onto stage out of the dark and rendered taps.

Taps in the auditorium was eerily beautiful within such a totally quite place and had a slight echo within the walls. As taps played, one could only focus on the source of light: the helmet, upturned rifle and empty boots that dominated the hall. The last image I can offer is that of the Secretary of the Army and Chief of Staff of the Army approaching the podium and rendering their slow and solemn final salutes of farewell. The family of MG Greene, senior Army and Acquisition leaders and all other friends, associates and colleague then filed by and offered their own solemn gestures of farewell. Some slowly saluted, MG Greene’s son and daughter each raised their hand and touched the two stars on his combat helmet, and others made other small gestures of respect and farewell. As each of the more than 300 persons attending made their way past the podium, the memorial service came to a solemn end.

 

Advertisements

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: