Thanks, Mike. Thanks, Ed.
Yesterday we published a story about a short-lived policy that limited the availability of military honor guards for veterans' funerals to within 100 miles of Philadelphia and Fort Indiantown Gap in Pennsylvania, leaving them unavailable for large expanses of the state, including Warren County.
The move, approved by the state Adjutant General's Office, was made in order to save costs in the wake of budget cuts. The office noted that the number of funerals served by the honor guards had grown significantly over the past couple years. Might that be because the veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam are getting older and dying in greater numbers each year?
When local funeral director Michael Lewis got the memo (the policy was already a done deal) that his clients and clients of other funeral homes in the area would not be able to receive those services, he complained to the closest veterans' advocate, county Veteran Affairs Director Ed Burris. Burris, in turn, sought the support of veterans affairs directors in other counties, and took the complaint to the state.
In short order, the policy was changed. Embarrassed and appalled members of the state General Assembly quickly allocated more money for the services.
Veterans' burial details are also served by an honor guard organized by the VFWs of Clarendon and Sheffield, and they do a wonderful job. But, there are instances where the family of the deceased would like active-duty service members to fold and present the nation's Flag.
A military burial detail is the final honor a grateful state and nation can bestow on a veteran. It is a tiny price to pay to honor the ultimate price they were willing to pay to protect their homeland.