As my wife and I made the drive to Coon Rapids, Iowa Sunday morning, I found myself hoping for a glimmer of sun, somewhere....anywhere. The day was gray, cold and a fresh snow fall blanketed much of the countryside. It was a somber day. A day for reflection and a day that we'd try to find out more about Specialist Muhr. And most importantly, it was a time to pay our respects for a job well done.
Arriving at Coon Rapids-Bayard High School, we were "drenched" in an array of U.S. flags. It was a humbling experience to enter the school through this patriotic doorway. As we crossed the threshold, we came face to face with a number of military personnel and Iowa's Commander in Chief, Governor Terry Branstad. The Governor's presence gave me comfort that one of our own had not been forgotten....that Super Bowl Sunday had not gotten in the way of our leaders taking the time to remember.
|U.S. Flags for a Fallen Soldier at Coon Rapids-Bayard High School|
After signing the guest list, we made our way into the gymnasium where over 500 were already assembled. The mood was calm and quiet. At 1:30 p.m. promptly a young man from the Coon Rapids community opened with a very nice rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. He didn't forget the words and he didn't try to over exaggerate the song. He nailed it.
The service itself had several rough moments. The audio system had numerous failures and feedback issues. I found myself wondering if Shawn, the man they called "Ox", was being ornery, as he was known to have been over the years. Was he trying to get everyone's attention, one last time? I also found the music selections quite unusual for a young man of his age, 26. How did he ever develop a taste for Jimmy's Dean's "Big John" and Claude King's "Wolverton Mountain?" It had to be the sure country in him coming out. The final choice of music, "The Ballad of the Green Beret" provided the lead-in to recognition from his fellow officers and soldiers.
Maj. Gen. Rodney Anderson spoke on behalf of the 546th Transportation Company, 264th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 82nd Sustainment Brigade of Fort Bragg, N.C.. The Major used such words, as "loyal, larger than life, always uplifting, exceptional Soldier....and Awesome", as a means to emphasize the fact that his buddies will roll on in his honor. Major Gen. Anderson's words captured much about the man, Shawn Muhr. Other words were brought forth by friend, Jeremy Storey, who wrote a poem that appeared on the back of the bulletin.
Leaving my family and friends today
Shipped off to another place to stay
I was always there to help, always knew what to do
....I always knew that I was part of my crew
It was always hard to leave my family behind
But I knew that my buddies needed me on that line
I fought for your life, and so many others
I fought for all of my sisters and brothers
When I got into the fight, I knew what to do
I was always on mission, that wasn't new
Now I'm back home, glad to be home again
Only this time, I won't be walking in
This trip home I will be laying down
With all of my family standing around
I know they'll be crying, and they are all so sad
I never wanted them to feel this bad
They look so down, but they have love in their eyes
Everyone knows, I'm going to the stars in the sky
...I'll never get to say, what I hope they know
I'll be watching over them as they all grow
They will never forget me, and I hope they see
How much I love them as they look down upon me
There was more love in me than stars in the sky
Everyone knew me, as that big lovable guy
I know what I did was right. I never had a doubt
Driving my truck was what my mission was about
A name is now called, a single bell rang
Think about me, you can't forget my name
Just keep your memories of me in a box
Don't ever forget me. I'm the big lovable "OX"
.....I'll miss you big guy!
|A picture tells part of Specialist Shawn Muhr's story|
Days before the funeral, I was talking to a military friend of mine who knew that I was going to attend Sunday's service. "What ever you do", he said, "just don't stay in the shoes of Shawn's father too long". "You mean, go there, but don't stay there?", I countered. So I did. I put those shoes on in my mind and went there for a short period of time, then I jumped back into mine when I put some perspective in the day. But it was then, that I began thinking of your shoes, and yours and........yours.
I have a myriad of new questions. Some relative to funerals themselves and others surrounding the news coverage of our fallen soldiers. Today is not the time to delve into those other than to say, this. I appreciated the coverage the Des Moines Register gave Specialist Muhr's day. On the other hand, there was only one television station present at the funeral. As we walked out of the door of the high school, I asked the news reporter where she was from. "News Channel 8 in Des Moines", she said. "Thank you for coming", I responded.
Now, I've got to keep reminding myself, "What will happen is God's business. Remaining faithful, no matter what happens, is mine".