Personal: A Resting Place- Arlington National Cemetery
A week ago, April 25, 2016, was the first birthday (and wedding anniversary) in 33 years that my parents did not spend side by side. That’s right- they shared a birthday, born a year a part. This year we celebrated my moms 55th Birthday, and the 55 years my dad spent on this earth.
There are no days that are easier than others- no days when it seems more fair. A few days before their birthdays - the sod was laid around his headstone… and if I know my dad.. there is nothing that would have made him happier than to have received grass on his birthday.
There is no good way to introduce this slideshow to y’all… it was one of the most surreal days I think we’ll ever live through. A full honors burial at Arlington National Cemetery. The letter below was written by me to the Chaplin conducting the service.. and in part read aloud.
As always thank you so much for your continued love, thoughts and support.
Jamie, Jane and Kimberly xo
I am responding on behalf of my mom and sister to your request for personal insight on my dad, MSgt Gary Herman.
I've tried numerous times to condense into a few minutes or a few lines what kind of guy my dad is... was. It's increasingly diffcult as the days pass- memories of the extraordinary man he was flood each quiet moment I have.
First and foremost he loved life and always had a "suck it up" attitude.. the kind of guy who would remind you that someone else had it worse off if you thought your day was bad. Whether it was POWs, or guys deployed... whatever he/ we had facing- it could be worse.
I remember growing up, going to work with him one day while he was running the SERE candiate school in San Antonio- he talked to those guys about how the Army would show you how to do things.. and well in the Air Force - they were to teach you. Thats the kind of guy he was. He would make you work for it but there was always a lesson - he was an instructor- to the core.
A friend for 20 something years recently told us that dad, " Always had on hand time for his people, a stupid joke, his 100 percent effort toward everything and grace toward his troops when they needed the time to get through the dumb crap they were pulling."
Thats how he was as a father as well. He was our go to guy. Whether it be school, job interview, boyfriend problems. We brought our concerns, our fears, our hopes to him. Looking back he was always fair and just - he treated my sister and I as peers. In grade school when punished.. we had to do push ups. In middle school - we'd write papers on topics hed pick.
As for my parents - They married after knowing each other 4 months (and really only seeing each other for 14 days)... their entire relationship up until the very end was a true adventure. Nearly 33 years. Ups and downs- but always together. That was our family. We loved deeply and we laughed loud.
When he was diagnosed 8 years ago- we were blind sided. He was seemingly "invinceible." Since that diagnosis hed survived 2 serious resections of his colon and liver - around 7,000 hours of chemo and a few dozen other small procedures. Our family added two son in laws and 4 grandchildren (5.5, 3.5, 2.5 and almost 2). In that time he did another 2 tours over seas, my parents moved from Virginia to Texas back to Virginia, He medically retired from the CIA and they moved to Florida 18 months ago. He lived out his days in the sweet sunshine - taking his boat out when he could and being adored by his grand kids.
Over the course of his 20 year military career and his 15 years in the government - Id say he carried a repuation for being one hell of a guy. The kind you wanted on your team. The first to raise his hand- his sacrifice to his country was unwaivering.
When I try to think of all the reasons he is missed by so many.. I think of him as a chameleon. If he sat around a poker table he wasnt afraid to call you all in, in the field hed show you how to build a fire out of rocks and survive eating grass hoppers, in the office he'd run a meeting in his 3 piece suit - with my daughters he would twirl around making up songs about princesses, and with my nephews it was all about fishing lures and matchbox cars. He played a strategic computer game with his best friend every friday and watched Bachelorette with my Mom Monday nights. If he was eating at a mexican restuarant he spoke with a spanish accent and if he was watching football it was all about the Titans.. and the Oilers before that. He rode motorcycles with his sister and got a line wet with his dad every chance he got. He'd take his mom to the library and then to an action movie. He'd debate with me and make up rap songs with my sister.
He was truly one of a kind.
I hope this gives you a little insight- jumbled and random.. but isn’t that the way life goes.
Thank you to my friend Rachel - for the incredibly tough job of being behind the camera for this session xox
Music by: Brantley Gilbert - One Hell of An Amen
Keywords: arlington, burial, cancer, cemetery, dc, family, funeral, honor, light, love, national, natural, photographer, washington, with
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