A tribute to our veterans

Crystal River, FL

When we pay tribute to our veterans, we want to make sure that it is done in a proper military manner. I mean: let us give our veterans not only a tribute but individual recognition for his or her service to their country, and for some it may have been the ultimate sacrifice. Let us honor them the way they honored their country, and to never forget those who did not come home.

For some American Legion members, the Honor Guard could be the gray area that is not quite clear. The Honor Guard of American Legion Post 155 here in Crystal River, Fla., was formed well over 30 years ago by a small group of dedicated World War II Legionnaires who saw the need for providing military honors for their fellow veterans. It is doubtful that those visionaries could have imagined how the Honor Guard they created would one day evolve into the proficient and highly skilled organization that it is today. Our reputation for providing dignified services for our fellow veterans has become widely recognized throughout our community and beyond. They do what we all should be doing - honoring our veterans for their service, as well as those who are still serving this great country we live in. For without their service, where would we be? Let me just say that the Honor Guard of American Legion Post 155, and the Honor Guards all over the United States, will not forget.

The Honor Guard has a wonderful history of those who served long ago, and of those who are serving now. The honor they bring to the veterans who have been called to other duties can never be surpassed. The thankful look on the families' faces, those who are both young and old, and those who are the loved one's immediate family. They come from all walks of life, and are of different nationalities, races and creeds, but the one fact they all share is that their loved one was a veteran. I think that the feeling is always there to answer the call when needed; and we are dedicated to serve those who have served before us and to be there for their families, even on a very short notice.

It is an honored tradition, and only those who feel a special calling choose to serve in this capacity. It seems that sometimes we overlook some small part of the ceremony, but only we know what it may be. I guess it comes from wanting the family to be completely satisfied and that we did everything we could to honor their loved one. The smiles, the tears, a final hug and the final words of many thanks are enough for us to continue without the least hesitation.

The service to honor the veteran includes a personal reading for all veterans, a prayer suitable for all denominations, the rifle squad firing a three-round volley with their weapons, and finally Taps by our bugler. At this conclusion the Veterans Burial Flag is folded in the proper military manner, and then presented to the next of kin or designated recipient. It is at this time we know that we have finished honoring the veteran, and the day is done.

In addition to being an Honor Guard member, you may also serve on the Color Guard, and in doing so you will be asked to post the national colors along with the Legion's colors to all who may require this honorable tradition. In my personal opinion, I think our national colors are the most beautiful in the entire world, and when I see our flag flying in the breeze I truly feel proud to an American.

Some pictures are of our faithful members and our own transportation (“the bus”), and I guess the smiling faces that go with them. The smiles, our companionship and comradeship are for everyone. So if anyone ever asks, "What does the Honor Guard do?" you will be able to tell them.

It would be great to see every American Legion post have an Honor Guard. And if your post has one, maybe you could look into joining them and get that extra-special feeling in your life that you may be missing.

For God and Country,
Jim Gilchriese
Information Officer
American Legion
Blanton Thompson Post 155
Honor Guard
Crystal River, Fla. 34429

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