This past weekend I had the chance to attend the Celebration of Life Service for Airman 2nd Class Bateman R. Burns. Airman Burns was returned to his home town in West Helena, AR. As I pulled up to the cemetery I looked at all the people who showed up to welcome him after 64 years. Some knowing him, some only knowing the stories told about him, and those not knowing him but wanted to show their respect to the fallen soldier.
One by one family members came up and spoke about the man Airman Burns was. How he treated others growing up and every time he came home for leave. This spoke volume to me on the man he was and the man he might have been.
I had the pleasure to meet his youngest sister Mrs. Christine “Teenie” Manning. She stood up, turned to the crowd and told a story of their mother’s love. Holding out on hope that he would one day return home. Telling the family maybe he has amnesia but one day he will remember and return home. This is a story I have heard so many times before. My grandmother spent a big part of her life thinking the same thing.
I sat and watched as Nathan Burns (the eldest nephew/niece of Airman Burns) sat up in his chair, slowly bringing his hand up to his forehead; while Airman Kelley presented the flag to him. I could not help but tear up even though I have seen this several times before. A very proud nephew!
I want to thank Airman Kelley for escorting Airman Burns home to his final resting place, Rubin with Air Force Mortuary Affairs for making this Celebration of Life complete, The Robert Darr Post 88 for allowing the family to gather after the Celebration, and Mrs. Vonda Burns for inviting little old me.
“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.” ~ M.S. Forbes
Airman Bateman R. Burns, this past weekend I was able to hear your true Character and I am thankful to your family for allowing me experience this.
Thank You for your Ultimate Sacrifice. Welcome home Sir
~ Tonja Anderson-Dell