How you can help Operation Honor Guard

There's a hefty price tag to keep these groups going

You can catch them almost any day of the year. 

You'll find a group of volunteer veterans standing guard and performing a military service at a veteran's funeral.

They do everything for free, but there's a hefty price tag to keep these groups going.

When our service men and women put on their uniform, they commit to a lifetime of service, dedication and sacrifice. 

"The fact that you did what you did while you were in, I mean the fact that you gave 2 years, 6 years or whatever, 20 years, to the country," Gerald Wright said. 

Wright, Stephen German and Frances Hawthorne are part of VFW Post 2257 in Galesburg.

"We're here," German said. "We'll remember what they did." 

German and Wright have served, while Hawthorne has a husband who served in the army. They say these heroes have earned their stripes and deserve to be buried with honors.

"To me it's giving back for all the service the guys have done," Hawthorne said.  

But performing a proper tribute doesn't come cheap. Honor guard volunteers have to foot the bill themselves.

From transportation and flags to ammunition for the 21-gun salute. Uniforms at this post also cost around $100-150 to cover their matching blazer, cap, tie and white collared shirt. But they say others could even cost up to $800.

"It's expensive to do the exact pants, the exact shirt," German said.

Military brothers and sisters in the Quad Cities area are joining together to help complete a special kind of mission.

"It's an honor, it's all an honor to help and give someone their last rites," Wright said.

"I'm proud I'm able to help....for the country and let everyone remember why they're out there fighting," German said. 

Mark Thomas is the owner of Watson-Thomas Funeral Home. He comes from a military family and stressed the importance of honor guards and their patriotic work at funerals. 

"It's just always been an important part of me because what they do provides the freedoms that we have and it allows me to really live out my dream," Thomas said.

When Thomas lost his grandfather, he says little details at the funeral like the salute and shell casings is what got him through a very tough day. 

"To me it has a lot of symbolism," Thomas said. "It means that he fought for our country... and ge was honored at his death and remembered as a veteran." 

Our brave heroes in red, white and blue give up their freedom so we could live in the land of the free. And the gratitude of honoring them shouldn't stop when these soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen take their last breath.

"I want them to always be there for our veterans," Thomas said.

"No one's going to forget what they did as long as we are around. and to honor them now and forever." 

It's a meaningful service for military families who've lost loved ones honor guards serve in all weather conditions, any time of day and without pay.

All the money raised for operation honor guard will stay in our community to help them perform their honorable duties.

Operation Honor Guard started in Champaign, Illinois back in 2013.

It runs today from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For more information on how you can help, click here.


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