Whether rain, sleet, snow or sunny weather, the Logan County Honor Guard offers last rites and a dignified service for military personnel who have passed away and their families, averaging about 52 funerals per year, or approximately one funeral every week.
This dedicated contingent of men and women who typically like to work behind the scenes were recently offered heartfelt gratitude during a luncheon to thank them for their numerous volunteer hours that have provided respect and honor to so many area residents.
The American Legion Auxiliary Unit 173 hosted the luncheon for the Logan County Color Guard and Logan County Honor Guard, with 15 members and their guests in attendance at the American Legion Harold Kerr Post 173.
Auxiliary member Deb Allison said idea for the event came about after the Auxiliary Unit 173 hosted their poppy sales in the spring by Uncle Beth’s BBQ in North Lewisburg, a strong supporter of veteran’s activities in the area.
“The owner wanted to find another way to give back to the veterans, and we thought, what a better group to honor than the Logan County Honor Guard and Color Guard,” she said.
“They keep busy all year round in sorts kinds of weather and give so generously of their time. They often stand outside of the funeral homes in the rain or in the cold. I’ll never forget how the Honor Guard was outside on a cold January night for my father’s funeral. It meant so much to my family to have them there.”
Members of the Honor Guard and Color Guard and their guests were treated to a meal of pulled pork and shredded chicken prepared by Uncle Beth’s BBQ, all donated free of charge by the business.
The Honor Guard is comprised of members of Doyle Castle VFW Post 1080 and the American Legion Harold Kerr Post 173. The Color Guard is comprised of members of the American Legion Harold Kerr Post 173.
The main mission of the Logan County Honor Guard is to perform military rites at veteran funerals.
“The members perform these duties out of respect for their fellow veterans and feel it’s an honor and a privilege to participate in a final ceremony to recognize the veteran’s service to their country,” Allison said.
A military funeral is a burial rite given to all members who served in the Armed Forces of the United States — those being military members who died while on active duty; or veterans who served in the active military, naval or air service and were discharged or released from that service by means of an “honorable” or “under honorable conditions” discharge, representatives said.
In addition to the funerals, the Color Guard also participates in any public event where a military presence is requested, such as parades, local high school commencements and football games.
At the luncheon, Allison also presented a program explaining the military rites given to a veteran at their funeral. Upon the family’s request, eligible veterans can be honored with a bugler to play Taps and a flag-folding detail. If available, a rifle team also will be provided for a rifle volley.
“All military ceremonies are conducted with dignity and many of the components are symbolic of the battlefield,” Allison said. “Although funerals are more somber than most, the Military Honors Service has great meaning that is rich with history and tradition.”
Often confused with the 21-gun salute, Allison noted that the military rifle volley is conducted with a rifle team of three, five or seven individuals, and is a tradition that dates back to the Civil War. A 21-gun salute is reserved for the president, or for chiefs of state and foreign dignitaries.
The song Taps, which also has a history that dates back to the Civil War. From this bugle call, General Daniel Butterfield wanted “his soldiers to know that everything was safe and secure for the evening and not to worry about being attacked because the guards were watching over them….Today, Taps is used to honor our fallen service members and our veterans and to signify that they can forever, rest in peace,” representatives explained.
The funeral flag presentation has its origins in the Napoleonic Wars. Its final triangular shape, reminiscent of the tri-cornered hats worn by American patriots during the Revolutionary War, “represents great sacrifice and warrants the dignity and respect earned by all who sacrificed for freedom.”
Prior to the forming of the Logan County Honor Guard, only a very small percentage of veterans who passed away received these military rites at their funerals. Between the years of 1966-1970, about 8 to 11 percent of eligible veterans received these services. Between 1992 and 1998, that figure increased to 14 to 15 percent, representatives report.
The average of 52 funerals conducted by the Logan County Honor Guard per year looked at recent statistics from 2016 to 2020.
While the exact date of the forming of the Logan County Honor Guard has been difficult to track down, there were first mentions of a unified “Logan County Vets” providing rites at a funeral in an obituary on Sept. 21, 1997, representatives said at the luncheon.
The first mention of a Logan County Veterans Association performing military rites was Feb. 6, 1999.
The organization’s first chaplain was Lowell Brenner, the post chaplain for VFW Post 1080, followed by Max Harr.
While the Honor Guard and Color Guard don’t charge for their services, representatives said donations are greatly appreciated for the maintenance of equipment and travel expenses. Donations can be mailed to the American Legion Post 173, 120 Colton Ave., Bellefontaine, OH, 43311, with checks made out to “Logan County Honor Guard.”