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Cathy Dyson writes about King George County. You can email her at cdyson@freelancestar.com.

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Lingering thoughts from a funeral

VIEW A PHOTO GALLERY FROM THE FUNERAL

It’s 3:45 in the morning, and thoughts about Trooper Adam Bowen and his funeral are swirling in my head. No sleep aid can clear the mind of those kind of images.

I wish you could have witnessed the sights and sounds inside the gym of Washington and Lee High School yesterday. To look out among the bleachers and rows of chairs and see the sea of uniforms was nothing short of incredible. Yet despite the number of people, the presence of honor guards from across the state and police motorcyclists from here and afar, everything ran like clockwork, perfectly synchronized.

Last night at the office, some of my co-workers were debating the taxpayer cost of sending representatives from police departments as far away as Maine and Vermont, Connecticut and Delaware, Missouri and Michigan. They wondered the sheer expense to citizens of having officers from distant states show up at such a funeral—and wondered how often their taxes went to pay the travel expenses of someone from Fredericksburg or Spotsylvania going to Oregon or California to show their respects. They certainly raise a valid point, but I’m guessing in the minds of law-enforcement individuals, being there for a fallen trooper or deputy, EMT or firefighter, is as important as any training regimen. It’s all part of the bond of law enforcement, as one trooper told me, part of the brotherhood and sisterhood that goes with emergency services workers.

Beyond that, here are a few lingering images from yesterday.

HAUNTING BAGPIPES

At the end of the funeral service, a lone bagpiper from Virginia State Police led the procession out of the gym. When the first sound came out of the pipes, I could feel every hair on my arms raise—and tears well up in my eyes. I saw it happen with others around me. It’s as haunting as the sounds of “Taps” playing at a graveside.

Most of the officers had left the gym by that point, leaving only the family, pallbearers and the flag-draped coffin of Bowen, along with those of us in the crowd who weren’t wearing a uniform. Those troopers who remained stood at various points in the gym and saluted the casket.

At that point, I wondered why in the world I put on mascara that morning.

A FUNNY STORY

I can’t remember which speaker said this; I don’t have my notes at home with me. But the man said he recalled hearing how Bowen had run out of tickets, just as he approached the car of a man he’d pulled over for some offense. According to the story, Bowen told the driver to tell him something he’d never heard before, and he wouldn’t give him a ticket.

“My water broke,” the man said.

A SAD STORY

Raechel Michie and Bowen were supposed to get married on July 9. But they were already husband and wife for all practical purposes. Raechel said that at the funeral and that’s how Bowen’s obituary read. Several speakers talked about how Raechel unquestionably was the love of Adam’s live, and how the union between a state trooper and a dispatcher in the King George Sheriff’s Office was a match made in heaven.

Raechel talked about Adam’s goals and how he had completed two of three, in the order he set out to do. First came career, and from middle school on, he and his dad, Glenn, and family friend, John Hoover, had developed a strategy to get him on the state police force. Bowen joined the U.S. Air Force National Guard after high school to get some military experience, and the five-year stint included a nine-month deployment to Iraq. After that, he got into the Virginia State Police academy and was assigned to King George County.

This coming Saturday would have been the three-year anniversary of him completing the academy and being assigned to his post.

The next goal was a house.  When Adam and Raechel were dating, Adam told her that “she was the one” who would share his home and life, but that they wouldn’t marry until the house was complete. It was finished in December, and when the two picked out wedding rings in June, “he made me the happiest woman on earth,” she said.

Adam never reached his third goal: to have a family. But in her closing remarks, Raechel said she would keep his side of the bed warm, keep his dog, Harley, fed and happy, and keep Adam in her heart until God updated her duty schedule, and they were together again.

Bowen is survived by his father, Glenn; his mother, R. Sue; his fiancee, Rachel Michie; his brother Kevin; his grandparents, L. Randolph Bowen, Beatrice Bowen and Maytrus Self; and his niece, Kylie Bowen.

RELATED STORY: RESPECT PAID WITH MEMORIES, HUMOR

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/kinggeorge/2011/06/29/lingering-thoughts-from-a-funeral/