The friends and the friends-who-are-relatives of Joan Smith Grey gathered at the Military Women’s Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday to honor and celebrate an outstanding woman. The eulogies, the snapshot photo show, and the recording of Joan reading the Epilogue to her book accentuated some of Joan Grey’s many accomplishments. We revered Joan with tears and laughter.
The famous women of the United States Military Academy at West Point’s first graduating class of 1980 assembled en masse to pay tribute to their classmate. What an amazing group of women! After so many years of hearing Joan speak of her fellow cadets and their accomplishments, I felt privileged to finally meet more of them. Like her classmates I already knew and loved, I felt a deep connection to these trailblazers!
In fact, all of the class of 1980 inspire me and fill me with awe. These men and women have given their talents and abilities to our country and their selflessness and service have aided all of us in more ways than we know. Many are now in the private sector, yet these West Point graduates continue to shine in their fields. Their integrity, honor and commitment to service is evident in all their accomplishments and everything they say.
Friends attended the ceremony who represented all the many roles Joan played in her life. I met her family, ‘Namaste Sisters’, fellow Chaplins, and Army families and friends. Karen Franklin McSherry, Joan’s maid of honor and our high school classmate attended, as well as her husband, Brian, probably the friend who has known Joan the longest, since he attended grade school with Joan. I was privileged to be part of a group of 220 people gathered to venerate my friend who touched so many people’s lives and changed them for the better.
Even at her memorial, Joan continues to help me expand my horizons.
The blessings still flow from this true and everlasting friend.
© Jane F. Collen August 24,2022
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