Kay Rivoli – The Rivoli Revue – 1.4.2011
It was not the ideal way to start the New Year and yet in some ways it seemed perfect. The funeral mass was at 9:30 A.M. at St. Louis Bertrand Catholic Church. We were there to celebrate the life of Raymond Lee Wright, my brother’s best friend and a friend of ours for many years. Not only was Ray a friend, he was an outstanding individual, a U.S. Army veteran who proudly served in the Vietnam War with the 11th Armored Calvary, K-Troop (66-67). He received the Purple Heart Cluster and Bronze and Silver Stars. He was a lifetime member of the 11th A.C.V.V.C. and a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Department. His wife of 39 years, Mary Ann, is one of the sweetest angels you will ever meet and today she, along with their son Michael and dozens of other family and friends, were gathered in this beautiful church to say our final farewell to Ray.
It was not the ideal way to start the New Year and yet there we sat in this majestic, holy place listening to beautiful music, our Saviour front and center, and I was deeply reminded of what is important in this life. I was thankful that because of Jesus Christ we know we will see our friend again and reminded of my salvation. I was thankful for my family and friends and reminded that I need to make time for them and say I love you every chance I get. I was thankful to live in a country where we can congregate in this beautiful place to comfort one another and seek solace. And I was reminded of the men and women like Raymond who have fought for that freedom.
As the mass concluded we left the church and formed a procession to the Kentucky Veterans cemetery. In route we passed several locations where members of the P.R.P. fire department had gathered and with fire engine lights ablaze, were standing in salute to their fellow firefighter.
We traveled the Purple Heart Trail and the Memorial Blue Star Highway and I couldn’t help but think how appropriate given Ray’s service. What a beautiful salute to this beautiful man. As we passed the General Patton museum I was reminded of the General’s words when he said “it is both foolish and wrong to mourn good men who have died, instead we should thank God that they lived” and I was thankful Ray had lived.
The procession was miles long and our vehicle was located near the end. It was touching to see how many people wouldn’t pass. Other’s in the far lanes had pulled over and waited. And at times, when traffic got thick, strangers would slow traffic and make sure every vehicle made it through unimpeded. A driver even stopped traffic in the passing lane as the procession approached the driveway of the cemetery. No one passed as we entered and at that moment I was reminded of the kindness of people and that the values and beliefs we hold dear really do exist.
As the sun was shining, taps was played, the flag was folded and the Patriot Guard presented flags and stood diligently throughout the service. After hugs and kisses with the family Ron and I walked the outer circle and shook hands with every Patriot Guard. We thanked them for their service and for being with us and we welcomed the Vietnam Vets home. Lots of tears were shed and I was once again reminded of the brave men and women who fight for our country and whose lives have been and still are filled with sacrifice.
As we left the cemetery we passed the P.O.W. tribute and I received a final reminder of all those who weren’t with us today, my family, friends and our troops and how thankful I am for all of them. I asked God to keep each of them in His loving protective arms and then I asked Him to say “Hello” to Ray.
It was not the ideal way to start the New Year and yet I am so thankful for this day. Could it be that Ray has given us one final gift? A day filled with perfect reminders of the blessings we’ve been given and the things important in this life – perhaps the perfect way to start the New Year. Rest in peace Ray and to the rest of my family and friends – Happy New Year and I love you.
In Memory of Raymond Lee Wright – April 29, 1945 – December 27, 2010
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