­The meaning of Valhalla and the military

January 23rd 2023

In the month or so before my fathers passing we had talked about his memorial and one of the things that was important to him was a nice program. He laid out in one of our conversations what he wanted on that program, the photos, the poems, the words to a hymn and a plan for service details. One of the items he wanted included was the poem The Viking Prayer which starts out, “Lo, there do I see my father…” He spoke of Valhalla.

I didn’t forget this conversation and after the days of suffering in the hospital were over, I requested that we the family walk with him to the morgue. The hospital seemed surprised and was kind enough to allow us to do that.  We waited patiently in the hall while they moved his body and covered it with a sheet. When it was wheeled into the hallway joining us waiting, I placed a small flag on top of the sheet and we proceeded to walk down the hallway, out of the ICU unit and towards the elevators. Once we got within feet of the elevators, they told us that was as far as we could go. The three of us stood around him and my brother read the Viking Prayer and then we was wheeled into the elevator and gone.

Lo, There do I see my Father

Lo, There do I see my Mother and My Brothers and my Sisters

Lo, There do I see the line of my people back to the beginning

Lo, They do call to me

They bid me take my place among them in the halls of Valhalla

Where thine enemies have been vanquished

Where the brave shall live Forever

Nor shall we mourn but rejoice for those that have died the glorious death.

I placed the poem in his service program and thought nothing more about it. Then this week while I was passing time and watching the movie “Dog” about a Vet and his combat buddy’s dog. In the movie, the term Valhalla comes up at least once. They explain that it is about “Until we meet again in the halls of Valhalla.” I found that interesting to hear that term in a military movie.

Then the next day I happened upon a whole website called Til Valhalla with a focus on selling shirts and items to help prevent veteran suicide. The more I learned about the term and it’s meaning within the military the more I felt blindsided. I wish my dad had said something about the fact that this was a military thing. Something common among people in combat.

I have been doing some research and it is incredible what I have learned about this term.

“This phrase dates all the way back to the days of the Vikings and is based on their unique perception of what might await in the afterlife.”

One of the reasons it continues to be so closely related to the military is its overall meaning. There is no greater distinction in life than to die with honor and valor.

In Norse mythology is the 1800 anglicized name for Old Norse: Valhǫll (“hall of the slain”). It is described as a majestic hall located in Asgard and presided over by the god Odin.

My dad was a very deep many. Nothing was ever what it seemed.  It always had more meaning and purpose.  He was also a man a few words and often we would never know the meaning and purpose of a gift, phrase, movie, show, or book. We would guess, but like this, years later the pieces would all come together and you would know so much more. I wish I had known this sooner.  I wish I could have asked him what it meant to him.  Why it matters to him. And, as I type this out, I can also know that having those answers wouldn’t change a lot in my world. What it could have changed was the connection we had while he was living. We could have enjoyed a moment of learning.  I might have gotten to know him a little more and that was all I ever really wanted. I just wanted to get past all of that armor and be closer to the man I could see inside of all of that protection.

Rest in peace dad and Until Valhalla,


Til Valhalla Project – fighting Veteran suicide