Final Rites: Utmost Respect Given To Those Buried With Full Military Honors
It has been my honor and my privilege to be a part of a VFW Honor Guard Team made up of veterans from two neighboring VFW posts in northwestern Washington State for the last three years. All military veterans who have served in the military and were honorably discharged veterans are eligible military honors at their funerals. It is our privilege to be able to provide these honors to our local veterans.
This video shows what that can look like.
Our VFW Honor Guard team is made up of veterans from the Air Force, the Navy, the Army and the Marine Corps. Most of us are Vietnam veterans, but we currently have Gulf War veterans with us as well. Since we are a VFW Honor Guard made up of veterans who have served in various military services, in order to be uniform in appearance, we wear Army dress uniforms when we perform our duties at funerals and other events. We also use M-1 Garrand rifles for the rifle salutes. We may not be slim and trim anymore, but we know our duties and understand the power and the importance of these military honors for the families of our veteran brothers and sisters.
The funerals that we do military honors for are usually attended by active duty enlisted and officer representatives from the services that the fallen veterans served with either in the Reserve, the National Guard, or on Active Duty enlistments or careers. These active duty personnel generally perform the flag folding duties and its presentation to the family. They will sometimes provide the bugler for the playing of taps as well. Our VFW Honor Guard is able to perform all of those duties, if necessary, as well as to fire a three volley rifle salute.
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Anyone who has attended a funeral for a veteran that included military honors knows how dignified, respectful and powerful those honors are. After the flag has been folded and presented to the principle family member in attendance by the active duty Honor Guard leader, “with the thanks of the President and a grateful nation,” our VFW Honor Guard Captain also steps forward and presents a small velvet pouch containing three spent shells as a remembrance of the military honors given for the deceased veteran.
Those who have served this country in uniform are eligible for this beautiful and moving final tribute. Funeral homes are usually very familiar with this and if a family requests such honors, they will generally know how to contact and arrange for the appropriate military services and the VFW Honor Guards who would be available in the local area. You may be able to contact a local VFW Post to see if they have an Honor Guard Team available as well.
Military Honors are a fitting and deeply moving tribute for our deceased veterans and their families. I can tell you that the members of our VFW Honor Guard Team are equally moved each time we perform these powerful, respectful duties for our veteran brothers and sisters.