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As days went, this one was made to order. Misty. Gloomy. A perfect day…for a funeral.
Dark gray skies over Granite Pointe, Massachusetts contrasted with the unrelieved black of the mourners surrounding an open grave. Mother Nature shared her grief for the loss of one of her warrior sons with the world, her complaints audible as wind gusted through the leaves overhead, making them tremble and dance. The only people not grieving were the fools who’d decided to turn a soldier’s solemn goodbye into a protest zone.
Pippa Sanders stood behind the minister, the corners of her mouth pulled south, struggling to control her anger at the group of zealots standing a mere one hundred yards away. Their chants and songs might be muffled, but she heard. And sweet baby Jesus, children the same age as her own twins held signs proclaiming God hated some of His children. Pippa shook her head slightly and blinked away tears. These people were making a statement. Even if she disagreed with it, this funeral was for Corporal Colin Wright, a man who had given his life defending their right to make it. The worst possible expression of irony.
A line of people dressed in leather coats, jeans and bandanas stood tall and silent, at parade rest, a human barricade between the protesters and the mourners. The faces of the men and women guarding a position beyond the gravesite were stoic. If they were angry with the protesters behind them, it wasn’t evident. In a way, they reminded Pippa of the Queen’s Guard around Buckingham Palace. Eyes level…no emotion. Cold. Their flinty-eyed forward stares suggested they battled to maintain a shred of composure against the hate spewing behind them. Their military training held true. They didn’t react. Each person steadily obeyed orders to not respond. They did their jobs.
Pippa’s job—to lead the gathered mourners in a song at the end of the ceremony—would begin shortly. She loved to sing, almost as much as she hated military funerals. Forcing her gaze away from the protesters, she focused on the minister’s comforting words, taking several deep, calming breaths in preparation for her portion of it.
God give me strength. Please help me get through this. She repeated the words in her mind to bolster her courage.
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