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January 21, 2014 / Rabbi Laura

Corporal Farrell Gilliam, z”l

Honor guard and Blue Star Mom's

Honor guard and Blue Star Moms show their respect

Today was a day I will not forget.  Today we buried Corporal Farrell Gilliam, 25 years too young, a hero amongst his family and his friends. A hero for our country.  A fighter.  A poet. A son and brother and friend. A survivor. A man who lived up to his name, for Farrell is Celtic for valor.

Corporal Farrell Gilliam

Corporal Farrell Gilliam

I still hear the whimpers and unsuccessfully held-back tears of strong Marines in their dress uniforms as they eulogized Farrell.

The echoes of the 21 gun salute still ring in my ears.

The honor guard playing Taps, all the active duty men and women standing at attention, saluting.

…and joining them, the 6 or so men who are devoted members of Temple Beth Israel who too served for our country, also standing at attention, saluting, like they were 25 years old and in uniform once again.  These men who served for our country – in Vietnam and in Korea and in WWII.  

Surrounding us, the grave stones of other Jewish veterans.

It is so hard for me to understand that there was a time when our veterans were dishonored, spit upon and hated for their service. I am grateful that those times are behind us.  I am grateful for the service these men – and women – have given and continue to give to our country.  Their sacrifices leave us indebted.  Their sacrifices leave mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers grieving.

Daniel, Farrell's big brother

Daniel, Farrell’s big brother

As one wise friend of Farrell’s said today, “Freedom is not free.”

Note:  z”l is an abbreviation of the Hebrew “zichrono livracha” – may his memory be a blessing

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