By: Yvonne Dempsey
For many years, the Limestone County Veterans Honor Guard has served area veterans by providing military honors for their funeral services and interments. Families must request this from the funeral home and be able to furnish the discharge papers (DD214) showing eligibility of having been honorably discharged. Public Law 106-65 requires that every eligible veteran receive military funeral honors to include folding and presenting of the U. S. flag and the playing of “Taps.” Many of these ceremonies also include a three-round volley of shots that represent duty, honor, and sacrifice. This service is always free of charge to veterans’ families.
Our service typically consists of folding and presenting the flag followed by a three-round volley of shots and the playing of “Taps.” At the present time, we are still available to provide military honors but are limited to the flag folding and presentation and the playing of “Taps.” We currently do not have access to the weapons we have been using for years but are working diligently to remedy this situation. The weapons are on loan from the government for our use providing that we pay for upkeep and repair and that we keep them securely locked up and safe when not in use.
We feel blessed that so many in our community have given monetary donations to us to help cover our expenses which include upkeep of the weapons and purchase of ammunition, uniforms, and other service related expenses. We are thankful that the County gave us a generous monetary donation and we have the support of our city and county officials. Currently, we are do not have control over our money and face the prospect of having our money taken away from us. However, we want to assure you that we will fight to ensure that all donations that have been made will be used exclusively by the Honor Guard for service related expenses.
Travel expense is not paid for out of our donations, and we use our personal vehicles to travel — we’ve often gone into TN, to Huntsville, to Moulton, and to many remote regions of and Limestone County and surrounding areas. There are times when we travel to two or three funerals a day. Sometimes we are asked to be pallbearers or otherwise participate in the funeral service. People know us and know that we stand ready to serve in whatever capacity we are able. Funerals aren’t our only service. We participate in Memorial Day and Veterans Day events and other community events by posting the Colors, leading the Pledge, and performing other tasks as needed and requested.
Limestone County Veterans Honor Guard members are veterans and patriotic Americans who love our country. We are willing to give of our time and energy to ensure that deceased veterans get the military honors they so rightfully deserve and their families have peace of mind knowing that their loved one was respectfully honored. Most of us are in our 60s and 70s but are willing to serve as long as we are physically able. We have stood in the sun during the hottest part of the day, stood in torrential downpours and sleet storms, stood in below freezing weather in the biting wind; all of this is just a small price to pay to honor our heroes.
Please know that we are still here despite rumors that we have disbanded. We have not! We are here for you, we are here for our community, and we are here for our veterans.
By: Yvonne Dempsey