In November of 2016, Matt's Granddaddy passed on and we had a nice service for him in his hometown. We did not have a burial for him because, since he was a career marine, he would be buried at Arlington Cemetery in Washington, DC. Matt's Mom got him on the schedule for Arlington and because they say so booked up, we knew it would be June or July before we heard back from them to get scheduled for Granddaddy's service. Once she heard from them, we were finally given an October date, nearly a full year after his passing.
We told the kids about three weeks out that we were going to get to go on an airplane ride and say a final goodbye to Granddaddy. They were excited and we counted down the days until we got to head to the airport!
We had a pretty full morning of traveling. We met Wyatt at the airport for the first leg (sadly, Anna didn't get to join us since it was Homecoming weekend and she had cheerleading obligations) and hooked up with Matt's parents on our layover for the second flight. By the time we made it to DC, we had a quick lunch and then it was time for a nap for our kiddos.
This may look like just a pile of pictures on a bed to you, but there's a Thomas hidden underneath them. Yes, that's where he actually took his nap. He was playing under the pillows and fell right to sleep.
That night we had a nice dinner out with just our side of the family. We enjoyed a nice walk back to the hotel that was made a little bit longer by getting slightly lost for a while. The kids enjoyed getting to be out late!
Friday morning we got dressed up and ready for Granddaddy's service.
We rented a limo and a bus for all of us to travel to the Arlington in. Our family got to ride in the limo!
I am not a wordsmith by any means so there's no way I could do justice to describing how amazing the service was for Granddaddy. We left the lobby where we had been waiting and all rode in the bus to the service. First, though, we stopped to let the urn be transferred into a casket. I took the picture below from the window before we got out of the bus to watch the transfer.
From there, we caravanned to the location of Granddaddy's actual service. The Arlington performs 27-30 burials a day but you wouldn't know it. Before we got there, I expected that we would be able to see other services going on in other parts of the cemetery around us, but we didn't see any others. They made us feel like we were the only ones there that day.
I tried to discreetly take pictures throughout the service. This was the first funeral for Katie Wynn and Thomas to attend and they did a pretty good job of being quiet and taking it all in.
There was a 21 gun salute for Granddaddy, which is actually three rounds of seven shots. The shells were given to Matt's Mom, the patriarch of the family, at the end of the service.
My favorite part was probably when Taps was played by a trumpet (or bugle?) soloist. The full band played 2 or 3 other songs too.
Katie Wynn was a little weepy at the end of the service. We had been telling her that we were going to get to say goodbye to Granddaddy and I think she thought she was going to get to see him. I tried to explain that we just picked something that reminded us of him to bury - I didn't think she was ready to learn about cremation just yet.
We walked to see Granddaddy's headstone where his two wives that preceded him in death had already been buried. His new stone will have his name on the front and their names will move to the back.
After the service, most everyone was going to stay to watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It happens every hour and since we were just a few minutes past the hour, we knew it was going to be too long of a wait for the next one for our two littles to handle. So the four of us hopped back in the limo to go change clothes and get lunch.
The weather was nice enough for us to eat outside and the kids enjoyed playing in this little tube thing.
That evening, we had a big dinner for everyone that had traveled in for the service to attend. We had a private room at an Italian restaurant and they served us SO much delicious food. It was nice to visit with all of Matt's family and even meet some that I'd never seen before. A lot of them had not ever met our little kids either so we were glad to have them with us.
We got to sit at a table with one of Granddaddy's good friends, Howard Piercy, and it was great hearing stories about them and their wives from back in the day!
Saturday was our last day in DC. Wyatt's flight left early in the morning but ours wasn't until late afternoon. We spent the morning doing some sight-seeing and visiting the National Air and Space Museum.
There were food tucks lined up at the National Mall and I'm not one to say no to food truck food. Everyone got to pick which truck their lunch came from and then we tried to look extra tourist-y while eating on the benches.
Soon after lunch we grabbed a cab to get our stuff from the hotel and then headed straight for the airport and our flight back home. It was a quick trip to DC but one that was special and will always be remembered!