Monthly Archives: May 2016

Burial at Arlington

Arlington National Cemetery

for our friend Jim Hogler, Lt. Colonel, U. S. Army

Filling the street like so many runners gathered to start a race

Wearing black funereal suits, dresses or raincoats

Against the steady drip of water from overhanging trees,

We stretched to see between the upheld umbrellas a caisson, four horses and

Two riders standing beside the hearse awaiting

The flag-draped casket covered with plastic against the rain

While the service band played “Be Thou My Vision.”

Then, ten beats of silence, and the brasses and drummer

Resumed with “It Is Well with My Soul.”

That over, the funeral director asked us in practiced tones

To return to our cars to join the procession,

Or to walk behind the two-wheeled artillery cart

That pulled off with slow step, looming through the rain

Like a half-forgotten scene from the past.

Silent, we went back to our cars and prepared to follow.

Ahead of us twenty-five members of the family who somberly paced

The quarter-mile to the grave site while we idled behind them.

Near the gravesite we picked our way forward to stand once again

Behind a multicolored wall of umbrella canopies upheld against the rain.

We heard rather than saw the casket’s slow backward progress off the caisson

Although we saw it in our mind’s eye, a remnant from those grainy black-and-white

Television pictures of John Kennedy’s funeral, the flag-draped coffin

Inching backward oh so slowly, the heavy burden tenderly borne by

Young men immaculate and expressionless in their uniforms,

Moving, well-rehearsed, to carry their commander-in-chief to his grave

Overlooking Memorial Bridge, not a quarter-mile from where we stood, waiting.

The rollers on the caisson squeaked, the only sound at that moment,

A sound somehow suited for outworn rusted axles, outworn beings, burial and death.

The casket out, the young soldiers carefully, solemnly, lifted their burden,

Carrying one who through his work and service had carried them before they knew,

Before they were aware of the sacrifices he had made. They were returned that gift

As did the nation. As did we with our sacrifice of time and presence on this overcast

Sullen day. The honor guard stepped deliberately through wet longish grass

And we followed.

I thought of Whitman, who nursed soldiers and wrote letters for them and cared for them

And mourned them when they died, and wrote poems for them, including these lines

From Leaves of Grass:

And now [the grass] seems to me the beautiful uncut hair of graves.

Tenderly will I use you curling grass,

It may be you transpire from the breasts of young men,

It may be if I had known them I would have loved them (,)

Who knows what any of us might have don?. We are only aware of what we have done

And know those whom we have known, including the one we follow for the last time today

Who had been followed by so many, inevitably come to lie beneath the grass

In some place, in a place of sorrow and beauty much like this.

We stood in rows behind the family and close friends, silent,

The only human sound the chaplain speaking of the place

And the sacred earth that cannot be bought but must be earned.

And so, we consigned our friend, relative, co-worker, fellow human being

To Whitman’s grass. Again I heard rather than saw

The meticulous folding of the flag and caught a glimpse of the soldier’s face

As he spoke these words,

On behalf of the President of the United States and the people of a grateful nation,

May I present this flag as a token of appreciation for the honorable and faithful service

Your loved one rendered this nation.

After those familiar words, an equally familiar prayer.

A shot split the silence, then another, and another, a three-gun salute.

The band, now across the way, played “America.”

A few people sang, and unseen aircraft taking off from National Airport

Soon rose above the clouds where the whine of their turbines

Obscured both voice and band for a moment

And we on the ground did not glimpse the Boeings bound

For places that some had just sung about, and,

The service finished, we returned to our cars and to our lives

After this journey to a kind of Middle-earth

Not the one of the lives we lead

Nor the life to come,

But a transient place of passing

To which we all shall, in due time, retire.


Dan Verner

May 12, 2016


Filed under Uncategorized

A “Practice” Concert Turns Out to Be the Real Thing




Samantha Kline

Twenty-four-year-old violin virtuoso Samantha Kline of Manassas presented a program of accompanied and unaccompanied songs to 140 appreciative friends, relatives and church and community members the evening of April 27 at Manassas Baptist Church.

Ms. Kline’s selections ranged from J. S. Bach’s Violin Sonata in G major for Piano and Violin, K. 301 to W. A. Mozart’s Sonata #1 in G Minor for Solo Violin, to Paganini’s Caprice No. 10 in G minor, Op. 1, demonstrating technical and emotional control of the songs and of her instrument, creating moods that were by turns melancholy, lyrical and spirited, according to the work.

After a short intermission, Samantha returned to give voice to Beethoven’s Sonata #3 in Eb for Piano and Violin, op.12 with finely interpreted lyrical sections in contrast to following dramatic passages, all of which Samantha took in stride. The closing movement, “Rondo Allegro Molto” was fluid and flawless.

With contemporary German composer Johannes X. Schahcter’s Florolegium—Hommage a Leopold Mozart, Samantha took on the experimental-sounding work with courage and technical virtuosity, exploring a range of tones and effects, producing at times electronic, ethereal and dissonant sounds, using glissandi and percussive effects to good advantage. Following this adventure for the ear, Samantha turned to the recognizable Carmen: Fantasie Brilliante for Violin and Piano by Jeno Hubey, showcasing her consider range of expression, emotion and sensitivity, which provided a rich and rhythmic close to the evening.

Samantha gave this concert as “practice” for competition in the Leopold Mozart International Violin Competition in Augsburg, Germany. She participated left  for Augsburg soon after the concert, and although she didn’t make it past the first round, she took a philosophical view of her experience. As she wrote in an email,

Unfortunately, I did not make it to the next round of the competition, but that is all right. I felt I didn’t play my best, and the competition is very difficult: only 12 people made it to the next round. I am happy to be in the competition in the first place. This is the first International competition I have applied for and participated in. I have more time to participate in other competitions if I choose and I think this has given me a better idea about what to expect for next time.

Anyone who has heard her play would agree that how Samantha did in the competition is immaterial. To them, and to me she still is, and will continue to be, a winner of the highest order.


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized