On any given day throughout Alabama, gentle words are spoken by a member of the clergy; a US flag draped over a casket is removed and folded ceremoniously and then presented to the loved ones of a deceased veteran followed by the familiar sound of “Taps” echoing through the air.
From these sounds, it is known that a funeral for a fallen United States veteran is being conducted. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are more than 375,000 veterans in Alabama and almost 53 percent are older than 65. When one of these veterans die and the military branch of service is unable to provide funeral military honors, these services are performed by volunteer honor guard teams.
The State Board of Veterans Affairs and Alabama Department of Veterans Affairs (ADVA) developed the Alabama Honor Guard Recognition Program to recognize Alabama residents who donate a substantial amount of their time to perform military honors across the state. In addition to funerals, honor guard volunteers visit area schools, nursing homes and churches to perform a patriotic flag ceremonial program to acquaint citizens with the numerous contributions and sacrifices of veterans.
To be eligible for the award, honor guard members must have completed a minimum of 25 honor guard/color guard related ceremonies (folding/presenting the flag, rifle detail, flag-bearing color guard, etc.). Applicants must be nominated for the award by their parent organization (school, service organization, unit, post, etc.)
For more information on the ADVA Honor Guard Recognition Program, please contact the ADVA headquarters at (334) 242-5077.