The light drizzle appeared to subside in time for the 17-gun salute that reverberated over the rolling hills of Arlington National Cemetery in a final tribute to the late Gen. Lewis B. Hershey, longtime director of the nation's Selective Service System, who was buried yesterday with full military honors.
The formality of the military procession that included persons from the ranks of all the branches of the military was in sharp contrast to the quiet simplicity of the funeral service held in the memorial chapel at Ft. Myer, which preceded it.
There was a short eulogy at this service, and the references to Gen. Hershey's military career emphasized the 50 years of public service rather than the military and historical significance of that career.
Col. Arthur Holmes, state director of selective service in Michigan for 25 years, delivered the memorial tribute.
"Let's reflect on the qualities (Gen. Hershey) possessed as a human being," Holmes said. "He left a mark on his family and all those who served under him in selective service . . . His dedication and loyalty generated an ordinary government agency into what became the Selective Service family."
Holmes referred to Gen. Hershey's wife, Ellen, who died April 1, who had said that a line from Rudyard Kipling's poem, "If," described the general most appropriately: "Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch."
The lack of military reminiscences was appropriate for the man who never saw actual combat, although he did control the destinies of millions of young men as head of selective service in three wars.
As an honor guard of about 175 representatives of the five branches of service waited in formation, an honor guard placed Gen. Hershey's body on a caisson drawn by six black horses. The U.S. Army Band played "Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past."
A black horse named Midnight followed the caisson to the graveside, boots reversed in the stirrups in a traditional salute to a fallen commander.
Later, friends, family and military leaders gathered around the gravesite to pay their final respects. The black marble headstone marked the graves of both Gen. Hershey and his wife, near light headstones showing where well-known generals such as George Catlett Marshall, Walter Bedell Smith and John Edwin Hull are buried.
The flat that had draped Gen. Hershey's casket was presented by Maj. Gen. Robert G. Yerks to Kathryn H. Layne, of Washington, the oldest surviving child, who stood by her brother, retired Marine Corps Col. Gilbert Hershey, of Jacksonville, N.C.
Gen. Hershey also is survived by another son, George, of Bremerton, Wash., and another daughter, Ellen M. Barth, of Kaneohe, Hawaii; 13 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Maj. Gen. Walter T. Kerwin Jr., Army vice chief of staff, represented the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the services.