Our Opinion: Honor Guard extends continuum of service, gratitude

News Tribune editorial

“On behalf of a grateful nation ...”

Those words were spoken by a military veteran as he handed my family the flag that had draped my father’s coffin.

My memories of that funeral more than 35 years ago were revived Tuesday while reading a story about the VFW Post 1003 Honor Guard, written by News Tribune contributing writer Jeremy Amick.

The area team participates at funerals for military veterans to express gratitude for the contributions made by their fellow service members.

More than three decades later, I still appreciate that members of the military took time that day to acknowledge and honor my father’s service during World II.

I hope — and expect — to be eternally grateful.

Similarly, I am thankful for the members of the VFW Honor Guard, which recently observed its 10-year anniversary.

During the past decade, those members have honored their peers and expressed appreciation to family members at 777 funerals.

Members of the group largely have retired from their careers, which is an asset because they are available during the work week, when many funerals are conducted.

The team members, however, also are seeking younger members to carry on their duties.

“Many of us on the team are getting up in years,” said Clarence Schneider, a World War II veteran and team coordinator, “and we really do encourage our younger veterans to join.”

One of the team’s younger members, U.S. Navy veteran Rob Abernathy discussed the rewards of participating. “To see the appreciation of a veteran’s family when final honors are given is a satisfying experience,” he said.

I can testify to the appreciation Abernathy described.

Honor Guard members continue to serve our country by expressing gratitude to fellow veterans — including my father.

The final tributes, however, symbolize much more. Military men and women share a unique bond. It is a bond that spans decades and unites them whether they served at home or abroad, during times of war or peace. The Honor Guard acknowledges each veteran’s role in a larger quest to establish and preserve peace and freedom.

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