VALLEY FORGE, Pa. – Soldiers from the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Readiness Division Military Funeral Honors (MFH) Team performed a memorial service at the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge campus here on May 5, 2019.
The MFH memorial service was publicly performed to honor deceased veterans and as a remembrance of Memorial Day, in support of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge and the Military Living History Association non-profit organizations. The MFH ceremony recognized the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and was one of many events during the 9th Annual WWII Weekend organized by the Military Living History Association.
Initial ceremony remarks were made by Pennsylvania State Representative Thomas P. Murt, who read a list of deceased veterans and spoke of the importance of honoring veterans.
Next, retired Col. James Georges, MFH senior representative, reflected on the history of the D-Day invasion and the freedoms Americans have because of those who served. He then explained the purpose of the following military funeral honors ceremony.
“It’s very symbolic of military service and it includes three parts: Taps [bugle call], the folding of the flag and the presentation,” explained Georges. “What it does is remember the people who served, and remember their value. There is no time limit for you to receive military funeral honors. Many times we provide a ceremony for someone who passed in World War II, or later, but never had a ceremony.”
Georges closed by stating which veterans are typically eligible to receive these honors.
“You’re always entitled to it if you have received an honorable discharge.”
Testimony of the impact of military funeral honors was provided from civilian-family and military perspectives that day.
“It’s so meaningful for the family; it is so emotional for the family,” said Deb Woolson, the director of community relations for the Freedoms Foundation and curator of the Medal of Honor Grove. Woolson is both a witness to veteran families that have received the flag, and a flag recipient herself, as the child of a veteran.
“When they give that flag, on behalf of a grateful nation, it means a lot. My Dad served in World War II… and it was years after World War II that our country still remembers and still honors you. There’s no price on that,” Woolson continued.
Retired Col. Jeff Jahnke, leader of the MFH ceremony, shared his reason for serving on the team.
“I’ve always felt it’s a good thing to do to give back to our service members who served in wars before us… Anybody that serves, deserves this honor,” stated Jahnke, with over 1000 MFH services and 30 years Army service to his credit.
The annual responsibility for finding a family whose veteran never received military funeral honors is the job of Marie Cherry, co-chair of the Military Living History Association. The Association is a non-profit group with a mission to preserve WWI and WWII history by portraying era Soldiers in reenactments, encampments, and more.
“It’s my passion to make sure [the family’s flag presentation] gets done. My Dad was a World War II veteran,” Cherry said.
According to Cherry, this is the seventh year the 99th RD provided military funeral honors to support her organization’s goals.
“Events like this are an opportunity to tell a family ‘Thank you for the service of your loved one’,” added Murt, a combat veteran who also performed MFH missions during his 20 years.
The mission of the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge, founded in 1949, is to teach civics education, about the founding documents and responsible citizenship, according to Woolson. The foundation owns the Medal of Honor Grove, the oldest living memorial honoring more than 3500 Medal of Honor recipients.
The 99th RD, headquartered at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., provides Military Funeral Honors as part of its Casualty Operations mission. The 99th supported more than 3500 MFH missions in fiscal year 2019 throughout its 13-state region.
Families of veterans desiring funeral honors, not working with a funeral director, can consult the Military One Source Military Funeral Honors Directory, covering all branches of service: https://www.militaryonesource.mil/leaders-service-providers/casualty-assistance/military-funeral-honors
|Date Posted:||10.31.2020 12:30|
|Location:||VALLEY FORGE, PA, US|
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