One was made up of Boy Scouts for whom my husband Jim had been a troop leader, teaching boys who became young men to identify stars in the night sky, ice climbing, sub-zero camping, cooking unusual food, instructing in emergency preparedness and other merit badge esoterica, hiking . . . and administering plenty of emergency medical aid over the years.
These young men solemnly led the service, walking down the aisle in Phillips Church, holding the flags which made up the colors.
You can see some of the Scouts’ contemplative faces to my left as I spoke while they were seated together in uniform.
Another color guard was there, too, made up of my daughter and the young women who are her teammates. They had fled a competition immediately after performing so my daughter and her friends could come straight back and change to attend her father’s memorial service.
This past weekend, after six years with the same marching band, my lovely little girl performed in her final Winter Guard competition. (For non-band parents: color guard provides the overriding visual element in a marching band show, and takes the floor alone during its winter season.) Among this group, flags in bright neon colors burst open and swirl and are tossed and caught in leaping dances.
The Boy Scouts had held their flags rigidly, at attention, as organ music filled Phillips Church, just after one of Jim’s favorite Bob Dylan songs had tapered off from a recording one of our daughters had made for his service.
The coalescing point for the two guards was a piece of music: Jupiter, which our children’s marching band had performed on the field and which also was played as the Scouts sat during Jim’s service.
My daughter’s color guard may punctuate a performance with choreographed poses, but they–and their flags–are hardly ever still. They transform their flags into bright, dancing, undulating shapes.
Both groups were very special to Jim. He did not know the Troop 158 Color Guard would be at his memorial service. He did not even have a chance to see sunlight streaming through the bright swirling colors of the stained glass window under which people streamed into his service. But he likely knew that the photographs he took of our daughter’s winter color guard competition, exactly two weeks before his service, would be his last.
Of all the world’s color and beauty Jim captured with his camera, his images of his children remain the most precious.
Given that there had to be a last set of photographs, how fitting that it was of the light and color and movement of a child’s glorious, graceful leaps and twirls in the air.