|Charles E. Hickey|
Our friend Eileen Hickey’s dad just passed. He was 86. Even at his age, he was still a handsome man. He told stories. He loved everything Irish. He was an Army First Sergeant. He had a large family. He met Rose when they were both 18. She liked to dance. He asked her out to dance. Smart man. They married three years later. They were only married for 65 years. They bickered. They loved one another. We saw them together and that was obvious.
I just knew that he would be buried in his uniform with an arm full of hashmarks. But Charlie told his family that he was a citizen first and a soldier second. His uniform was displayed before the casket and it made you proud to be an American.
He raised pigeons. He made many friends because of it. They were of all different ages. As we were leaving the church on South Franklin Street, a flock of pigeons flew off the church roof. Coincidence? I think not.
Three Massachusetts State Police officers led us from Holbrook to Arlington Massachusetts. I felt like a race car driver. In a few more years I won’t be able to do it. We drove the South East Expressway straight through the city of Boston to Johnny D’s. through Somerville. Well, until we entered Arlington off the Mystic Valley Parkway, that’s where it felt we were heading.
I called the Norwell State Police barracks and filed a formal compliment. It made you proud how the young black-booted troopers handled the funeral detail. It has been a while since I felt like that about anyone.
At the Arlington, Massachusetts cemetery, the United States Army gave Charlie a beautiful sendoff. A real United States of America flag draped his cherrywood casket. Anyone who has served knows, even today, how to fold it properly.
“Taps.” Was there a dry eye anywhere when the heavily medaled sergeant kneeled in front of Rose, looked her square in the eye, and thanked her for her husband’s forty years of service to our country? The veteran funeral director told me that “Taps” gets to him every single time.
It was sunny. It was 60 degrees. Not your usual December in Boston weather. Charlie still has connections, obviously.
It was beautiful. It was sad. Thanks to the family and friends, it was a totally awesome perfectly orchestrated day.
Charles E. Hickey, thank you for your life and thank you for your service.
Bacon Robert Francis
United States Navy Seabee