Monday, July 30, 2007

Nathan Barnes laid to rest

HUNDREDS OF BOY SCOUTS, each bearing a U.S. flag and standing at attention, lined streets in American Fork on Saturday to honor a fallen soldier.

Sgt. Nathan S. Barnes, 23, was killed in action near Rushdi Mullah, Iraq, on July 17. Barnes was born and raised in American Fork.

The route from the Alpine Tabernacle in American Fork to the city cemetery was shut down to all traffic as hundreds of Scouts and their leaders lined both sides of the entire procession, standing at attention as the hearse and dozens of cars passed.

At the cemetery, family and friends were greeted by a bagpipe player. The burial site was lined with a double row of flags, and members of the public lined the streets for a glimpse of the fallen soldier's entourage.

Prior to the procession, hundreds gathered at the tabernacle for a two-hour hero's farewell.

Barnes's sister, Lisa Blake, called Barnes an ideal brother who loved the outdoors, reading and writing. She nicknamed him "Noodle, because he was so skinny," she said. "I will never go to the mountains again without wishing he was there."

An avid reader, her brother believed "fiction taught more truth than true stories, and he always applied what he learned to his life," she said. "He wrote beautifully, too. He had big plans and I know he would have achieved them all and more."

She began to weep. "I was so looking forward to watching him achieve them...

"I was born free but remain free because of people like Nathan. I consider it an honor to have a hero for a brother. There is a heavy void in my heart."

Michael Barnes said his brother once wrote a difficult letter home, telling his family a military maneuver meant to scare away snipers went awry, killing a small Iraqi girl in her home. In a letter describing the experience, Nathan wrote "That happens in war" but later called his brother to apologize for the comment. Michael said he told Nathan not to apologize, and thanked him for his sacrifices for his country.

"They go over there willing to take these scars for the rest of us," Michael said, crying heavily as he spoke. "I can say I knew one of the greatest people who ever lived. I know because of the atonement of Jesus Christ that I will see him again. I will see his wonderful, infectious smile and I will be home again."

Timothy Barnes quoted a letter from his brother, written from Iraq.

"I have definitely learned from all of this," Nathan wrote after summarizing his experiences in the military. "So if any of you are wondering if I think the Army is worth it, the answer is yes."

Timothy Barnes and other family members said they had struggled to come to terms with the untimely death of Nathan.

"Over the past 10 to 12 days I have wondered, how could some guy in Iraq be allowed to do this to our family?" he said. "I think the answer is that this is part of our Heavenly Father's plan. Nathan was going in the right direction spiritually when this happened. I'm sure he is busy, and if he is sad, it is only because we are sad."

"In the end, he turned to face the enemy and died in glory," said brother Jay Barnes. "We will not forget the heroism he displayed and the honor he brought to himself and his parents. He understood the price of freedom, but he did not shirk when his time came."

After the service, the hearse and family limousines where given a double escort by police and veterans bearing flags on motorcycles. Following the dedication of the grave, Barnes was given a military gun salute and his parents were presented with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart earned by their son's heroism in the face of an enemy of the Unites States.

Just as the grave was dedicated, a stiff breeze unfurled the dozens of flags surrounding family and friends in the cemetery. Minutes later, just as the Purple Star was awarded, the breeze unfurled the flags again, as if in final tribute.

After the flag from the casket was presented to Barnes's mother, Donna, the family ended the service by placing white roses on the casket.

From the Herald Extra

Related Link:
Nathan Barnes remembered

Related Link:
Nathan Barnes reported killed in Iraq