Veteran, first responder honored during funeral service in Richmond Hill
A true American hero was killed in a freak auto crash in Savannah Wednesday morning before Thanksgiving in Savannah. His name is Mark Edward Hummeldrof. He was 33 years old, married, with a four year old boy and a daughter on the way to be born in April.
He served our country with honor in the Marines and in Iraq earning a Purple Heart. After he was discharged he became the highest ranking firefighter and EMT being trained to do dives and rescues from confined spaces.
He and his family live in Richmond Hill. We had his funeral on Monday, the Funeral Liturgy outside of Mass. Our 1,200 seat church was filled to capacity with about 200 firefighters, law enforcement and other first responders.
After my homily, the Intercessions and Lord's Prayer, I allowed the Firefighters burial ritual normally done after the Rite of Committal at the graveside to take place in the church as Mark's body will be buried in Arlington National Cemetary. It was very somber, with the ringing of the bell, and then the final dispatch, done live over a "walkie/talkie" where the dispatcher at the office called for Mark Hummeldorf along with his number three times, the final time acknowledging that he has gone to final call in the hereafter.
As his name was called, there was wailing and emotional outbreaks in the church from the firefighters themselves and men and women in the congregation. I could not hold back the tears either as it was the lance needed to release the puss of enclosed grief.
I thought to myself, how the so-called "renewal" of the Requiem Mass, especially what is allowed to be sung at these funeral liturgies, sanitizes death and suppresses actual grief keeping the infection enclosed in the psyche.
We moved from wearing black vestments to white ones because of this denial of grief and to sanatize or prevent public expressions of grief during the liturgy. We eliminated dirge like music and the Dies Irae in favor of happy resurrection music that is sappy, sentimental and superficial, like "Be Not Afraid" and "On Eagle Wings" and the like.
Maybe we have something to learn from the firefighters burial ritual!