Folding of the flag
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On a recent breezy morning, another funeral took place at Miramar National Cemetery. As the flag was being folded by soldiers from the U.S. Army Honor Guard and “Taps” was being played by a Marine bugler, there was no sound of crying from the family and friends of Navy veteran Marian Jones. In fact, there were no family or friends.

As one of our nation’s veterans was laid to rest, it might have gone totally unnoticed were it not for two groups present that morning: one on a duty assignment and the other out of a sense of obligation. Soldiers from the honor guard were present to provide full military honors, in compliance with federal law; the eight other individuals were all volunteers.

Regardless of the fact that neither family nor friends were in attendance, the soldiers performed their duty superbly. Their uniforms crisp and smart, with ribbons and badges catching the early-morning sun, they marched into position. On command, the rifle salute rang out across the landscape, followed by the command to present arms.

At that point, the eight volunteers — veterans all — also came to the position of attention. Some rendered the hand salute as the others held American flags at the position of present arms.

Members of the honor guard then folded an American flag, which by protocol is presented to the next of kin of the deceased.

One of the volunteers, symbolically representing the family of the Navy veteran, received the folded flag from the commander of the honor guard. Then each of the volunteers paused to touch the folded flag, in a small way connecting with the soldier whom they had never met.

As the short ceremony concluded, the only sounds were of muted commands, the honor guard marching away, flags fluttering in the breeze, and lanyards tapping against the flagpoles.

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Comments

Submariner March 27, 2016 @ 10:56 a.m.

"Connection made with a soldier they'd never met"? Hmm, not so much. In journalism, this is what's known as a "hed bust" ("hed" being shorthand for headline). Jones was a member of the Navy, which makes her a sailor. The Army and National Guard have soldiers, the Navy has sailors, the Air Force has airmen, the Marine Corps has Marines, and the Coast Guard has Coast Guardsmen — and no, the terms aren't interchangeable, ever. Want to test this? Try calling a Marine a soldier to his face and see how that works out for you. San Diego being the military bastion that it is, the Reader should be more aware of the differences in terminology among the various armed services.

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Visduh March 27, 2016 @ 7:01 p.m.

Submariner, you are totally correct. What we see nowadays in plenty of circles, including those of journalists, is a generic use of "soldier." What these illiterates are looking for is the word "warrior", which has no connection to a branch of the military. I see it all the time, and it crops up in our local Light News frequently.

What I do not understand here is the use of an army funeral detail for a navy veteran. This is a navy town, and has "jillions" of squids available, whereas the army has to bring a detail from God-knows-where. So, was this veteran really a navy veteran?

Another question: Does the name Marian necessarily imply the deceased was female? The distinction was that a male had the name spelled Marion, and a female Marian. But sometimes folks just didn't get the spelling right, and a guy had "Marian" on his birth certificate. Details, details, details. Too many are missing.

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Robert Mizrachi March 28, 2016 @ 6:01 a.m.

Thanks for correcting this editorial error. (The writer is aware of proper terminology — and now so am I.)

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ISERVED March 28, 2016 @ 5:24 a.m.

A crisp salute to the deceased Marian Jones, the Honor Guard, and the veteran volunteers honoring the deceased in lieu of family. Active duty members make up only 1% of our population, adding vets and retired military make it a total of ~5%. A small, special, minority population of heroes, not so evident with the large military presence in SOCAL. What journalism and the country has lost without universal national military service (The Draft) is an understanding of the words Soldier, Sailor, Airman and Marine hence the errors other comments raise. Another cost of the all-volunteer force. GOD bless our vets.

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Visduh March 28, 2016 @ 10:59 a.m.

So, are you saying that the soldiers in that detail were veterans and volunteers? A few years ago there was a group of (mostly) 82nd Airborne Div veterans who handled many funerals. They were obviously older guys, and showed up in very sharp army greens. Now that the army has junked that uniform, perhaps they now wear service blues. Is that the source of those army personnel? If so, it explains a lot. And if so, they should have our thanks.

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AlexClarke March 28, 2016 @ 6:31 a.m.

How old was this Sailor? Why was there no family? How long was she in the Navy? When was she in the Navy. Was she serve during one of our 'conflicts'?

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