A final salute to vets

Richard Reuer


Today, Dec. 6, 2018, as I along with the rest of the country sat in front of our TV screen watching the final funeral of our 41st president, President George Herbert Walker Bush. Not only is he remembered as our 41st President of the United States of America, but also one who has served our country in the United States Navy.

One of the most impressive scenes in what was taking place at the funeral of our 41st President is the military honors presented, just as they are whenever our country loses one of our military family members whether active, inactive, or retired.

As part of the American Legion Post #26 Honor Guard team, we are always fortunate in giving military honors to our departed comrades. I remembered officiating a military funeral for a family member of a departed comrade, and in sharing with him what was to take place in honoring the death of his father, I asked him if he was Catholic. He said, “No.” I then proceeded in sharing with him about my military experience in working along side of our military Chaplains and mentioned about how Catholics give last rites to their people. I told him this was what we were doing in honor of his father, giving him his last military rites.

His comment to me was, “That brings comfort to me to know.”

Each day the American Legion Post #26 Honor Guard, Captain receives a call from our local funeral homes (Thomas Family Funeral Home and Thompson-Larson Funeral Home) to let us know a military funeral service is needed by our team. Most of the time we are waiting for the funeral procession to arrive at the cemetery (Rosehill Memorial Park Cemetery and Sunset Memorial Cemetery) to provide military honors (last military rites) to our fallen comrade.

In the past two or three years, our funeral home directors have made provisions for us during the winter season to honor our fallen comrade in their family church setting. After sometime, we have come to notice that a couple of churches would not allow us to fold the American flag, draped on the casket of our departed comrade or even allow the flag to be draped on the casket other than having their church pal placed over the casket. But most of the time, the casket enters the sanctuary without the flag. The flag remains out on a lonely table.

The pastors of these churches have informed the military personnel their reasons for not allowing the American flag inside the sanctuary was that it was inappropriate, by their standards, not the church people.

I’m sure most family and friends that have attended military funeral and are moved by what transpires as they hear commands from the Honor Guard leader, rifles shifting in position of present arms, which is a render of salute, then later to ready-aim-fire, and hearing the sounds of TAPS from a lone bugler. Last but not least the presentation of the flag to the spouse/family member of the departed comrade along with the empty cartridge shells fired from rifles and placed in a small blue soft cloth pouch along with a North Dakota funeral coin, all in the appreciation of the service that was given by their loved one.

So, the next time you see on the obituary page of the Minot Daily News a name of a departed comrade, I would challenge you to drop off a sympathy card to the funeral home that is making funeral arrangements for the family in thanking them for their departed loved one’s service and for the freedom they have given us to live in such a great nation as the United States of America.