And I didn't know why.
It took awhile to drag the memory up, but up it came. My first husband was stationed at Hickam AFB in Hawaii. As a military wife, I occasionally flew on a MAC (Military Airlift Command) C-141A. In 1971-72 MACV (Military Airlift Command Vietnam) also flew to and from Hickam.
We were waiting to board our transport when the military honors (funeral) guys came in and went to the other end of the hangar. Everyone, military personnel, spouses, kids, stood quietly and waited as the plane was unloaded. Aluminum coffin after coffin (technically not a coffin but a "transfer case") was unloaded, each with respect, even gentleness. We could see each one for only a moment before it disappeared behind partitions.
Somewhere in the hangar a radio was playing very faintly, and the opening piano chords of "Chicago" are tied in my mind to this scene. Interestingly it's not the image of the coffins that is triggered by the music, but the reverence in which the men treated the dead.