The honor guard at American Legion Post 72 in Orem, Utah, stays busy conducting military honors at more than 130 funerals a year. At its most recent funeral, the honor guard did its best to right a wrong.
A week earlier, while Post 72’s honor guard was attending another funeral – that of a fellow post member – the wife, family and friends of World War II veteran Wally Norton sat graveside waiting for another honor guard to show up. It never did.
The lack of a military honors burial left Norton’s wife of 31 years, Nedra, in tears. According to the Daily Herald in Provo, Utah, Norton's family friend Sheron Drake wanted to make sure both Wally and his family got the funeral he’d earned through his service in the U.S. Army.
Drake contacted Post 72 to request an honor guard. There never was a question what the answer would be.
“I’m sure (the funeral experience for Nedra) was not good,” Post 72 Commander Brad Prescott said. “People think they’re going to have an honor guard and it doesn’t show, that’s very disconcerting. We do not want to have that happen for that very reason.”
Prescott said Post 72’s honor guard has long been a source of pride and a regular attendee at funerals for area veterans. “Last year we did 134 funerals, and we’ve gone to around 60 or so this year,” he said. “The mortuaries contact us about three to four days out, we email our guys and they come. They’re very, very dependable. I never worry about people showing up.”
On June 16, Post 72’s honor guard was at Lindon City Cemetery to provide Nedra with a folded flag and a 21-gun salute. Utah’s Patriot Guard Riders gave the widow an escort from her home to the cemetery.
“Between our post and the (Patriot Guard) Riders, we had a very, very nice service,” Prescott said. “It turned out extremely well.”
Nedra told the Daily Herald that the June 16 service made up for the previous disappointment she’d felt at the lack of a military burial for Wally. “It was just beautiful, wasn’t it,” she said of the service.
Nedra’s daughter, Vonnie Norris, told the Daily Herald the second funeral service brought some closure to her mother. “This morning she gets up and goes, ‘I don’t feel any sadness. I just feel such a relief and happiness,’” Norris said.