Friday, March 26, 2010

Goodbye Kernel

The Honor Guard, in front of a grieving crowd, folded the flag,
slowly and deliberately, sharply sealing each crease,
as the last notes of Taps echoed through the trees
and the smoke from the three volleys cleared.
Just then, I heard the wail of a freight train
running on the old Grand Trunk line down by the river,
blowing at each crossing, as it came closer.
Next, one of the soldiers knelt before his oldest,
presenting him the flag on behalf of a grateful nation
and the wails began to fade as the train headed on eastward.
He never expected to see ’69, after that bloody New Year in Vietnam;
Tet, they called it, and he was in the Iron Triangle.
Miraculously, he came home, in one piece, decorated and recognized for valor,
but he’d been changed and now embraced each new day as a gift.
One marriage ended and a few years later another began
and he now had three new boys to help raise,
one who nicknamed him Kernel, spelled for pop corn and not his rank.
Eventually, after an honorable retirement,
he headed back to high school where he influenced a new generation
to the ideals of duty and honor and hard work.
Empty-nesters, Kernel and his wife Joyce finally retired to the lake
where they enjoyed many sunsets and a few good years,
before he engaged a new battle, this one with his heart.
Struggling to recover from a major attack and stroke
in which he spent a month in a coma,
he was able beat it, just for a while, allowing him to care for Joyce,
who was now on dialysis and dying from pancreatic cancer.
He was there at the end, and thereafter tried to keep busy,
volunteering at the library and enjoying his men’s Bible study group
till one evening when his heart finally gave out.
His ashes, along with his wife’s, were buried in the National Cemetery
where, as the crowd walked back from the grave,
six Blackhawks, flying in formation, came over at treetop level,
heading west, a final flight for an airborne officer…

It was an honor to be among the mourners last Friday.


  1. It's good to remember and honor lives like that. I'm sure the eulogies were inspiring.


  2. Wonderful tribute, Sage.

    By the way, this has nothing to do with anything, but when I heard Warren Buffet was trying to buy a railroad, I thought of you.

  3. Sad but touching.

    What an admirable example to many. Nice tribute, my friend.

  4. Beautiful memorial to him, and the ceremony must have been very special.

  5. Nice eulogies for a friend that must have been a very special person.

  6. Randall, they were, but so were the stories told around the table afterwards.

    Bone, a few years ago, Buffett purchased some large chunks of some railroads. Is he now trying to buy his own? "Buffett Central?"

    Kenju, its always sad to lose people you admire, but he had suffered greatly over the past few years and had a wonderful life. For that, we can be thankful.

    Ily, thanks.

    Walking Guy, yes, he's home!

    Beau & Leni, thanks.

  7. What a great post, Sage. He sounds like a wonderful man, one we should all have been lucky enough to meet.