In different parts of the United States, there are different codes of conduct, different local customs, that surround funeral processions. One of the most popular is just to pull over to the side of the road and allow the procession to pass. When the last car in the procession passes by, that’s the sign that you should go about your business. In some parts of the country, the processions actually have the right of way, even through stop lights where you may have a green light.
In some states I’ve been in, there is a tradition where people pull over, get out of their cars and take off their hats or fold their hands and say a prayer with bowed heads. Still others will pull over and put their headlights on in recognition of the person who passed.
Colonel Jack Usrey was driving along the highway in Kentucky in a pouring rain when he noticed up ahead a funeral procession coming his way. Pulling over, he hopped out and rendered a salute and kept that salute until the last car had passed. Erin Hester happened to have pulled behind the U.S. Army service member’s vehicle and saw the act as one of the most kind things she had ever seen done and took a photo and posted it on Facebook. By the next day, it had gone viral!
It was pouring rain as Erin drove, which is why she was surprised to see a man standing on the side of the road next to his car. As she got closer, she realized the man was a soldier in uniform and he was standing at attention.
Erin looked around to figure out why the soldier was doing this, and that’s when she saw a funeral procession slowly driving by, their headlights all on.
As soon as Erin saw the procession, she too pulled over to the side of the road to respectfully let it pass. When she got home later, she shared her story on Facebook.
“I always get frustrated when I see cars that don’t pull to the side and stop for a procession,” she wrote, “but this gentlemen went above and beyond.”
When people began viewing the photo, an effort was made to track down the soldier. As it turned out, Colonel Usrey saw the Facebook post and was surprised at the reaction. He was asked by reporters why he had chosen to do that and he replied, “Family hurting, bad day, rain makes it worse…maybe I can help. And I just did it.”
Later in the month, Erin Hestor had the chance to meet with the Colonel and it was a memorable day. When asked about advice he would give to others who were touched by the story, he said, “I think the single, simple message I’d ask folks to think about is every single day, we’re all given opportunities, if we just slow down and just help somebody.”