Other Voices: Veterans still serve in local honor guard
In the 1930’s the American Legion, Post 130, of Grass Valley, formed an honor guard to provide military honors at funerals and/or graveside services for veterans who had honorably served in the armed forces of the United States. Some of the veterans organizations would only provide honors for those of their own branch of the armed services. It became difficult, at times, to assemble an honors team to serve at military burials and memorials due to the lack of available veterans of the deceased’s branch of the armed forces.
Under the auspices of the American Legion, Post 130, veterans of all branches of the military services joined together to form the All Veterans Honor Guard. The unit was certified as an authorized provider by the Department of Defense after a thorough evaluation in 2000.
The All Veterans Honor Guard has provided hundreds of honors ceremonies since that time and has had as its only source of meeting its expenses the voluntary contributions of the families of the deceased, community organizations and its own members.
In 2009, 46 military honors were performed in addition to instructional ceremonies for Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and 4-H. Additionally, the All Veterans Honor Guard has participated with Daughters of the American Revolution (Wreath Laying), Elks Lodge (Flag Retirement), Opening and Closing ceremonies for Veterans’ Stand-Down, and Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and Fourth of July ceremonies.
The uniformed Honor Guard is typically comprised of the Firing Team Commander, Firing Party (usually seven riflemen), one or two Flag Bearers and a Bugler who plays Taps after the firing of three volleys by the Firing Party. A “21-Gun Salute” is reserved for the President of the United States, foreign heads of state, etc. Depending upon the deceased’s branch of service, uniformed representatives of that branch may fold the Flag of the United States and present it to the designated next of kin. At the conclusion of military honors, members of the All Veterans Honor Guard, individually, pay their respects to the deceased’s family. As a memento, three spent shell casings from the three volleys are presented to the family.
Serving without compensation, there are currently 26 active members of the All Veterans Honor Guard representing both sexes and all branches of the armed forces. Members’ ranks range from the lowest enlisted grades through Marine Corps Master Sergeant, Coast Guard Commander, and Air force Colonel. One served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam (all three!). However, all serve as equals. Members are motivated by their love of Country and their appreciation of the service of those who have passed-on and their desire to formally recognize the deceased veteran’s contribution to our Nation.
For further information, contact All Veterans Honor Guard coordinator Wes Hayes at (530) 477-6900.
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