Honoring Our Veterans Through Those Who Have Served

Honoring veterans during the funeral service is the last opportunity families and friends have to recognize their dedication.

Honoring Veterans

Honoring veterans during the funeral service is the last opportunity families and friends have to recognize their dedication and valor as military men and women. At Roper & Sons Funeral Home in Lincoln, Nebraska, our Funeral Directors work closely with the local Honor Guard and families to honor their loved ones who served in the U.S. military.

What does the Honor Guard do?

Gerry Wolf, American Legion Post 3 Commander, has been involved with The American Legion for the past 43 years and a member of the Honor Guard for the last 15 years. “The Honor Guard’s fundamental responsibility is to amplify the Military Honors teams to honor, respect, and celebrate military veterans who have passed,” says Gerry. The Department of Defense provides military funeral “Honors” to veterans who are eligible when asked to do so. This consists of at least two uniformed military persons who are currently serving, at least one being from the veteran’s branch of service. Gerry adds that someone from the Lincoln Symphony Orchestra offers to play taps. “At the service, the Honor Guard will assist the Military Honors Team to fold the burial flag, present the flag to the veteran’s family, fire the three-shot volley, and play taps.”

The Honor Guard members typically consist of volunteers who are military veterans. This could include those who are retired military or members of veterans’ service organizations, such as the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and other approved organizations.

While they not only honor those who have served, the Honor Guard also participates in patriotic civic functions. These will typically look like flag raisings, school visits, talking with students or other organizations, or possibly even visiting with and honoring veterans living in retirement homes. Anytime these functions are taking place, the Honor Guard will be in uniform.

The Importance of the Honor Guard

The Honor Guard currently consists of 20 dedicated American Legion members, according to Gerry. These members range anywhere in age from 95-40 years old, having served in a variety of different military branches. The average age of the Honor Guard is slowly approaching 80 years old, causing an urgent need for new members. “We need the next generation to join the Honor Guard, so they can continue to render military honors to veterans and their families during their time of grief,” Gerry says.

Gerry’s military career began during the Vietnam Era. He went to college at Creighton University and during that time was enrolled in the ROTC program. He served in various places, including Germany during the Cold War, from 1968-1972. When he returned from Germany, he was discharged from active duty in the Army, and later joined The American Legion. He has been a part of the Honor Guard for years, most recently becoming the Post’s Commander in 2021. He continues to show his patriotism and dedication through his role in the Honor Guard. He says this duty is an extension of his military service, like a calling for him. “The members are a good group of people and I enjoy honoring veterans alongside them,” Gerry says.

Scheduling the Honor Guard

To have your family member recognized by the Honor Guard, talk with your Funeral Director at Roper & Sons. They will coordinate services with the Honor Guard, working directly with Gerry.

Families need to provide the veteran’s DD-214 proof of military service honorable discharge form before services can be provided. The firing squad is also available to those families who request it. The Honor Guard appreciates as much notice in advance as possible; typical arrangements take place within a few days to a week before the funeral service takes place. Although donations are encouraged and accepted, the Honor Guard does not charge families for their services.

Military veterans are individuals who spent years of their lives showing their dedication and patriotism to their country. The Honor Guard highlights these accomplishments and achievements, and helps bring a sense of peace to families grieving the loss of their loved one. Roper & Sons in Lincoln is proud to honor our military veterans every day.

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