Honoring veterans who pass away with a final salute. A look at an American Legion honor guard.
May 28, 2018, 10:34 PM | Updated: May 29, 2018, 6:31 am
MANTI, Utah – In any cemetery, you’ll find reminders of the veterans who are buried there—markers—headstones and small flags, honoring those who served their country. But before these veterans are laid to rest, they each receive a final sendoff, consisting of a 21-gun salute, the sounding of “Taps” and the folding of the American flag.
They are honors that Que Simons, a veteran of the Korean conflict who passed away at age 87, received in late April, by American Legion members of Post 31 of Manti and Post 4 of Mt. Pleasant.
“My dad was very proud of his military service, this was something he requested early on,” said Allen Simons, a son.
“The military honors are given to vets who served their country and their community,” according to John Cox, the Sergeant at Arms for American Legion Post 31. Cox organizes the honor guard, whenever a local veteran passes away.
“I think it is the most honorable thing you can do for a veteran, is give them their last farewell,” Cox added.
“They just handed me the bugle one day and I haven’t put it down since,” said Robert “Doc” Hedelius, who stands in as the bugler at these veterans’ graveside services. “I suppose it would be in the hundreds, I’ve been doing it for a long time. “Afterall, it is the last thing we can do for them, they deserve the honors and I feel glad to be a part of it,” he added.
And in his 92nd year, Hedelius is the last veteran of World War II in the Manti American Legion post, who is still able to provide these military rites for his fallen brothers. These individual military rites for veterans—performed by other veterans, create a lasting memory for their loved ones.
“And I can’t express my gratitude to everyone who has provided service here, especially the military honors,” Simons added.
A solemn duty to give each veteran a final salute, according to Hedelius.
“A lot of them have stopped to talk to us after and they tell us how much they appreciated it and that is all the pay we need.”