This month the American Legion Honor Guard reached a special goal after nearly three years of fundraising. Honor Guard members from Post 3 of Kingsport and post 265 of Gate City raised $47,000 for a new van to assist with transportation for veteran funerals. And there’s no doubt – the vehicle will be put to good use.
“So far this year we have done 170 Honors funerals,” said Gerald Cardwell, Honor Guard coordinator. “And this is the middle of July, so that averages out to about four a week.”
Honor Guard members perform funeral services voluntarily and at no cost to the veteran’s family.
“It’s really rewarding, because every veteran is entitled to an Honors funeral if they want one,” Cardwell said.
The new van is easier than the previous one for members to get in and out of, and has much-needed air conditioning. Honor Guard members worked with several organizations, churches, small donors, and businesses to raise the money.
One significant contributor was Trinity Memorial Funeral Home in Kingsport. Owner Weston Leonard said veteran support is a huge part of their mission.
“In my thought, if they served our country, and took time out from their own lives to serve our country, then I want to do something back for them,” Leonard said.
Honor Guard members were able to purchase the van by the Fourth of July, just in time to be a part of the Kingsport parade.
“They all had smiles on,” Leonard said. “They came up here, we put some lettering on it. And they could all stand up in the van and get around, which was a lot better than having to slump over in the old van. I’m very excited that they’re able to have something that’s going to last them at least a decade.”