On August 8th, our family buried our beloved Ben. In the midst of our grief, we were touched by the kindness of strangers – some who served with Ben but whom we had never met; others whose compassion and kindness was extended simply because Ben was fallen.
We will never forget:
• The attentiveness of the military personnel who helped plan Ben’s homecoming, memorial, and burial services
• The precision, honor, and care of a white-gloved honor guard
• The rumble of Patriot Guard Riders’ motorcycles escorting Ben and the family from the Modesto Airport to Patterson on Tuesday – and again on Wednesday from Modesto to his final resting place. They rode in spite of blazing heat and long periods of waiting in the direct sun.
• The kind face and patient attentions of Patterson’s Hillview Funeral Home director
• Flashing lights of police cars and motorcycles escorting us, ensuring that at every stop light, stop sign, and cross-road, traffic was stopped so we could pass
• A huge flag suspended over the street between the raised ladders of two fire trucks
• Rows of flags placed by volunteers in front of the church
• Baskets of little flag lapel pins handed out by volunteers at the church, which we will continue to wear in remembrance of Ben’s service to his country
• A flawlessly presented media presentation for Ben’s service
• The dress uniforms and on-duty fatigues of men and women from Ben’s military units who spent an entire day and evening helping us remember and honor him
• Fire fighters and police officers standing at attention by the side of the road to honor Ben in every town through which we passed
• One lone woman standing with hand over her heart and holding a flag on a dusty and deserted back-road. Her thoughtfulness brought tears to our eyes, as did the many civilians lining town streets
• Frosty bottles of water handed to us as we sat in the scorching sun at Ben’s gravesite
The church was packed solidly for Ben’s funeral and we are grateful to family and friends for honoring Ben with their presence, both there and on the long drive to his final resting place.
Our grief is made more bearable in seeing how much Ben was loved and knowing he served and died with honor and integrity.
To our friends and to a supportive community and country, we say, “Thank You.”
– The Family of Ben Pleitez