Many families still do not know that since Jan. 1, 2000, every armed forces veteran and member on active duty or in the active reserve has had the right to be buried with patriotic flourishes provided by a military honor guard. On that date, Military Funeral Honors became a statutory benefit to all veterans with the signing of the National Defense Authorization Act. The law requires that, upon the family's request, every eligible veteran is entitled to receive a military funeral honors ceremony to include folding, presentation of the United States Burial Flag and the sounding of Taps, at no cost to the family.
The American Legion has performed thousands of burial ceremonies annually for the families of veterans throughout their history; this will not change. Over the years the organization has adopted certain ways and means that may differ from other groups. This does not mean either are wrong or improper, just different.
As members of The American Legion in assisting the United States Government we strive to conform to the DOD's methods of conduct. In working together, we honor, in the highest traditions of American military service, those who have gone before. In doing so all the requirements for a reverent, respectful, and dignified ceremony are met.
We of Post 189's Honor Guard have shared an honored tradition for many years. In a years time, we assist in approximately 200 ceremonies. We currently have over 20 members, including 3 buglers. The opportunity to join is offered to all Post members who are willing, and able to serve. Sometimes weather conditions require that changes be made, but we strive to insure we are the only ones knowledgeable of the changes. We also strive to insure the family is satisfied with our efforts to honor their loved one. The tears, smiles, and parting hugs from family members provide the only fuel we need to continue.
The duties of our Honor Guard, Rifle Squads, and Flag Bearers include but are not limited to the following:
- Provide military rites for deceased honorably discharged Veterans.
- Participate in local parades with walking teams, and floats.
- Present programs on Americanism, Flag Day, and other patriotic ceremonies for grade schools, high schools, scouts, and others as requested.
- Participate in Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day, Flag Day , Memorial Day ceremonies, Flag Retirement Ceremonies, and others.
Our American Legion Honor Guard teams with Veterans of Foreign Wars POST 5789's Honor Guard for several annual occasions. Each Memorial Day, at the Lee's Summit Historical Cemetery, the joint Guards celebrate Memorial Day with the annual Avenue of Flags around the perimeter of the cemetery. Those flags on display have draped the coffins of deceased veterans. The public is invited to witness this ceremony held each year to remember the service of those who have served our country. The two Honor Guards jointly commemorate other significant days, and observances dedicated to our Veterans.