Ceremonies pay tribute to those owed military honors

EDMONDS — The rain held off.

Flags flapped in the breeze through the cemetery.

Joann Bernhardt sat with old friends remembering her husband, Kenneth Bernhardt, an 81-year-old retired Everett truck driver who died in May.

She scattered her husband’s ashes then, but she didn’t know he was eligible for military honors.

Bernhardt was a skinny, 6-foot, 4-inch guy nicknamed “Sprout” when he served as an Army paratrooper during the Korean War. One of the few memories he shared with his family about the war was of the cold Korean winters and of his sleeping bag, which was made for a much shorter man.

“We were ill-prepared for that war and perhaps for each war,” said Joann Bernhardt, 78. “We all wish there would be no more war.”

Late this summer friends told her about a monthly ceremony run by a state National Guard Military Funeral Honors team, veterans honoring veterans.

On Tuesday, members from Veterans of Foreign Wars posts in Edmonds, Snohomish and Lynnwood stood by. A cadre fired their rifles in unison three times in salute.

The breeze pushed away the dense, humid air, making it possible for people assembled at Edmonds Memorial Cemetery to hear clearly the three young National Guardsman. They announced the ceremony, read the names of 150 deceased veterans from Snohomish County honored this day and rang a bell after each name.

“It takes a lot to join the service,” said Sgt. Glenn Jones, 26, from Edmonds, who serves in the National Guard. “Participating in the funeral honors team is a way to give back and show respect.”

The National Guardsmen ceremoniously unfurled a U.S. flag.

A VFW bugler played taps.

Joann Bernhardt thought about her husband, Kenny, as she wiped away her tears.

“It was so sweet of these men to volunteer their time for this polished service,” she said.

Gale Fiege: 425-339-3427; gfiege@heraldnet.com.

Information

The state National Guard Military Funeral Honors team conducts monthly ceremonies for deceased veterans who did not receive military honors at the time of their deaths. More information is available by calling Sgt. Chris Edwards at 206-940-7865.

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