Saratoga’s Honor Guard steeped in service

Each flag is folded 12 times, each fold a tribute.

Each flag is folded 12 times, each fold a tribute.

— In most cases, it’s not until you’re in need of services from an organization that you actually become aware of them. That is much the case with The Honor Guard Association at Saratoga’s National Cemetery.

The group primarily provides a military component at burial services for fallen soldiers. The Honor Guard, at the request of family (be itof a veteran or active soldier) will perform taps, give a rifle salute and perform a flag folding at funerals for any honorably discharged soldier from any branch of the armed forces.

The association in Saratoga has 150 members, 90 of them are active but all of who are volunteers. It’s one of a scant few non-military honor guards in the nation, and its members play a vital role in the hundreds of veteran burials that take place every year at the cemetery.

Despite stepping up to the plate whenever needed, the Honor Guard Association operates on a shoestring budget. J.P. Dartt, adjutant with the Honor Guard, said financial records for 2010 showed expenses just over$16,000 and he anticipated that records for 2011 would be about the same.

The organization’s small operating budget is made up entirely of donations, from which the group pays for uniforms, ammunition and other needs. Now, the members are seeking money to maintain a shuttle bus to run on the grounds of the cemetery in Saratoga.

At the age of 40, Dartt is the youngest member of the Saratoga Honor Guard.

“I was newly married with a young daughter. I wanted to get out with people a little more. It’s easy to overlook that need for community,” saidDartt.

That sense of brotherhood and community is also shared by Martin Volin, a 1st Lt. with the association and veteran of the MarineCorps. He says that the association works with area funeral homes and offers families a ceremony at burials.

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