It takes hours of training to perform the ceremonial paying of respect and the final demonstration of the country's gratitude to those who made the ultimate sacrifice defending our nation. The Nebraska Army National Guard's Military Funeral Honors Team conducted a funeral rehearsal Thursday in Lincoln.
"Normally, we have a 40-hour in-house or in-state course that we run," says 1st Sgt. Mark Smith. "We can start utilizing individuals once we get 26 hours completed of that."
During training, members practice many of the steps performed during a military funeral, including the proper way to fold the American flag and playing of taps.
The trainers require an 80-hour course in Little Rock, Arkansas. It's time and dedication State Training NCO Sgt. Taylor Siebrandt, says is much needed. "I do these daily. We'll leave at six o'clock in the morning and sometimes we don't get back until six or eight o'clock at night."
The long days reflect the amount of funerals in the state. Each year, the team conducts about 1,100 military funerals. "It's a great honor," says Siebrandt. "It doesn't matter who the deceased was. Every time I go out to do the service I feel in a weird way almost overjoyed because I'm allowed to be the one to pay his last respects."