We watched in silence as the man and woman in white Naval uniforms folded the flag. I had never seen anything like this and had never been to a military funeral before. Bob Hornish, who had served his country faithfully in the 1940s, was being laid to rest and being given full military honors. They folded the flag with such precision it was as if their life depended on it and they gave it to Bob’s oldest child and his only son. This was a moment of honor and recognition that I will not soon forget.
Bob is my brother’s father-in-law and a very generous person. He was a man who led by example and would not want people to know all the kind things he had done. After leaving the military, he became a school teacher for his entire professional career. As a committed believer, he made his local church, New Hyde Park Baptist in New York the nexus of his life. It seems like there were very few tasks that he did not perform as a volunteer over the years. Whether it was on the mission’s committee, serving as a deacon or working with the curriculum for Sunday school, he was always doing something to support the church and its growth.
I had the privilege of attending Bob’s memorial service the night before the burial and was deeply impacted by the people that shared about his impact on their lives. Everyone from the janitor to a young man who grew up on the same street where Bob lived told of his love of life, love of his family and love for God and his church. Over the years since my brother married his daughter, I had met Bob several times. I cannot say that I knew him well, but what I did know, I liked. He doted on his grandkids as if they were his own and took a genuine interest in others. He wanted to get to know my family and even sent us gifts on occasion to support us in our missionary endeavors.
As the preacher spoke about Bob at the memorial service, my mind was drawn to a particular verse in 1 Thessalonians about how we are instructed to live our lives,
“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody”
Bob did work with his hands a lot as model trains were both a hobby and passion for him. You could not know Bob and not know about his love of trains. His life was not always easy, but he faced his trials with a quiet confidence and faith that was an example to others. At the memorial service, it was clear that a few “outsiders” were in attendance and it struck me that Bob’s life was not lived in vain. Every day he lived, he did so as an example of leading a quiet Godly life and in death he left a legacy of faithfulness that will live on long after he is gone.
In an age when it seems that everyone is trying build a bigger and bigger social media platform (myself included), Bob chose a different path. He didn’t care about a public persona and actually shunned the limelight. Instead, he plugged away at the tasks that God had given him – loving others well. The outpouring of love at his memorial service demonstrated that he had done his job well and could finally find his “peace at last”.