Glenn’s Trumpet Notes

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Posts Tagged ‘Washington Army National Guard’

“Taps” for King County Veterans Who Were Buried Without Military Funeral Honors

Posted by glennled on January 5, 2012

WAARNG Honor Guard reads the deceased veterans' names

Who’s ever heard of the VMT Program? Very few. There’s been almost no news coverage. Yet, as Post Bugler for VFW Post 1040 in Lynnwood, I have played “Taps” three times in the past three weeks for almost 600 veterans who recently died in King County, Washington—twice at ceremonies at Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Evergreen Washelli and once at Acacia Memorial Park in north Seattle. And that’s going to continue. What’s this all about?

All veterans are eligible for military funeral honors, but most survivors do not request them. Before 2010 in Washington state, when the moment for honors had passed, that was that. But now, tribute is later paid to them in absentia by the the Washington Army National Guard (WAARNG) through its Veterans Memorial Tribute Program (VMTP). Now, none are forgotten.

"Ready" to fire three volleys, VFW Post 1040 Firing Squad

The Honor Guard Program of the Army National Guard in Washington and 7 other states is headed by William A. (Bill) Graham, Jr., Regional Director and State Coordinator, located in Camp Murray near Ft. Lewis. When a person dies in Washington, he says, the funeral director typically submits a death worksheet to the Department of Health, Center for Health Statistics. On the worksheet, Question #12 asks whether the deceased was a veteran. Quarterly, the state forwards a list of all such veterans to the WAARNG which then checks this list against a national database of all veterans who already have been accorded military honors. It turns out that about 65% of eligible veterans do not receive military funeral honors. The VMTP remedies this.

Presenting the flag

WAARNG is the first in the nation to institute this tribute program. When VMTP first started in 2010, the state sent them data for 2008, 2009, and 2010 (to date). The 2008 and 2009 batches contained about 14,000 names each!

Mr. Graham says the goal is to furnish an Honor Guard for these mass committal services in all 39 counties of the state. The Honor Guard renders military funeral honors en masse for each new set of deceased veterans. Most are concentrated in King County. For a KREM-TV report on a memorial service held last October in Medical Lake in Spokane County, see http://www.krem.com/news/local/Tribute-program-honors-veterans-gaining-local-support-132498463.html.

With gratitude, respect and honor, the final salute

At a typically brief tribute ceremony, the names of the deceased vets are read aloud, a bell is rung, a prayer is offered, a poem is read, and the nation’s deep gratitude is expressed. In north King County, this is done twice a month by WAARNG’s Bellingham unit which usually reads about 200 new names each time—at Evergreen Washelli on the first Tuesday and at Acacia on the third Tuesday of each month. VFW Post 1040 furnishes the firing squad and the bugler—me, playing my Super Olds cornet, serial number 133097 with my Bach 8C mouthpiece. Similar honors are rendered monthly in south King County. Mr. Graham says that in less populous counties, the tribute ceremony would be rendered less frequently, depending upon the need. The public is welcome to attend.

Photos by Richard Larson at Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Evergreen Washelli; click on any photo to enlarge it.

 

 

WE REMEMBER THEM [excerpt]

At the rising of the sun and at its going down

We remember them…

As long as we live, they too will live;

for they are now a part of us

as we remember them.

Posted in Ceremonies & Celebrations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Playing “Taps” for Medal of Honor Recipients at Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park in Seattle on 16 July

Posted by glennled on July 2, 2011

Photo by Thad Westhusing, http://www.thadsworld.net

Until this year, I did not realize that Evergreen Washelli Memorial Park is the final resting place for one Silver Star and six Medal of Honor recipients. The Silver Star recipient and two of the Medal of Honor recipients fought in Vietnam. Another two Medal of Honor recipents fought in World War II, and the other two fought in the Spanish/American War. These wars span 77 years, from 1898 to 1975.

I am so lucky. Just before the conclusion of a special ceremony for the public on Saturday, 16 July, I get to play “Taps” to honor these very special men. It is said that playing “Taps” is the most sacred duty of a bugler. I feel it. The last time I felt it, I was in high school when I played “Taps” at a ceremony in my home town, Sinton, Texas, on either Memorial Day or Veterans Day. I want to feel it again.

The ceremony begins at 10:30 a.m. with a half-hour concert by the Washington Letter Carriers Band. Next comes the Parade of Colors at 11 a.m., followed by The National Anthem, Pledge of Allegiance, and Invocation. The speaker is Major General James (“Jimmy’) M. Collins, Jr., U.S. Army (Ret.). The program concludes with a salute from members of the Washington Army National Guard, followed by “Echo Taps,” the Benediction, and the Retiring of the Colors at about noon.

To pay tribute to these fallen heroes and to thank them and their families for their selfless and courageous service to our country, Evergreen Washelli is creating a permanent marker which will tell each medal recipient’s heroic story. You are invited to attend the ceremony, witness the unveiling of their permanent memorials, visit their graves, read their stories, and see images of the medals received. Their names: Albanese, Horton, Leisy, Nakamura, Bloch, Fadden and Alakulppi.

Posted in Ceremonies & Celebrations | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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