Northeast Tarrant

Memorial Day service: 'Today we remember the fallen dead'

Memorial Day ceremony at Bluebonnet Hills Memorial Park in Colleyville

Memorial Day ceremony at Bluebonnet Hills Memorial Park in Colleyville, TX, Monday, May 28, 2018.
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Memorial Day ceremony at Bluebonnet Hills Memorial Park in Colleyville, TX, Monday, May 28, 2018.

At first, it seemed like a picnic.

Families crossed the vast green lawn, excited children in tow, stepping around the small American flags and flowers placed on graves. Boy Scouts, who had placed the flags on Saturday, handed out bottles of cold water.

But soon, the mood turned solemn at the Memorial Day remembrance ceremony at Bluebonnet Hills Funeral Home and Memorial Park on Monday morning.

Hundreds of people — some wearing T-shirts and shorts, others in military regalia — turned up to remember America's fallen soldiers in spite of temperatures that climbed toward 90 degrees by the ceremony's 10 a.m. start.

Bagpipers played "Amazing Grace," and then the procession began. During the procession, a flag-draped coffin was brought before the crowd by a carriage drawn by two black horses.

As members of Bedford's American Legion Post 379, wearing black uniforms and white helmets, removed the coffin from the carriage and pulled away the flag, a cloud passed briefly over the sun.

The crowd was mostly silent as the men performed the flag-folding ceremony. A few people could be heard crying.

Beneath a large American flag held aloft by the extended ladders of two fire engines, one from Colleyville and one from Grapevine, the national anthem was sung and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited. Then there was a volley of gunfire and the playing of "Taps."

Pastor Nathan Tucker of Alliance Community Fellowship church in Fort Worth gave the invocation.

"Father, today we remember the fallen dead," he said.

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Tim McDonough delivers the keynote address during the Memorial Day ceremony at Bluebonnet HIlls Memorial Park. Max Faulkner mfaulkner@star-telegram.com

A medley was played of the armed service song for each branch of the military, and the crowd became more exuberant, cheering each organization but saving its loudest applause for the Air Force.

In his keynote address, Tim McDonough, a former Air Force flight mechanic, spoke of how his mission — bringing dead U.S. soldiers home aboard "angel flights" — eventually left him with post-traumatic stress.

"We leave no man behind. We bring our fallen home. But after year after year of doing that, something changed. I got numb."

He would take long walks on his property in upstate New York. It was "the only time I felt semi-human," he said.

"I didn't lose an arm. I didn't lose a leg. No, in fact, I was losing my mind," he said.

He told the crowd how the Wounded Warrior Project helped him come back from the depths of PTSD.

The ceremony came to a close with a benediction from Dr. Tony Wolfe of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention and music from Fort Worth Pipes and Drums.

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