Coast Guard Family Month: The Honor Guard’s creed; a commitment to servicemembers and their families

The Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard has a unique duty to represent the Commandant, the Military District of Washington and the United States Coast Guard through ceremonial operations held before world leaders and dignitaries. But they also have the distinct honor to help ensure that families have a special moment to remember their loved ones’ service to their country. This includes providing military honors for funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. Continue to the post to read one Honor Guardsman’s thoughts on what it means to be part of such an humbling event.

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Today we say “Thank You” to our Coast Guard Veterans and all Veterans, past and present. 

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. 
—John F. Kennedy

Coast Guardsmen in the Ceremonial Honor Guard participate in an inurnment service at the Old Post Chapel near the Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. The Ceremonial Honor Guard represents the commandant, the Military District of Washington and the United States Coast Guard through ceremonial operations held before world leaders and dignitaries. (Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Shinn)
Coast Guardsmen in the Ceremonial Honor Guard participate in an inurnment service at the Old Post Chapel near the Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. The Ceremonial Honor Guard represents the commandant, the Military District of Washington and the United States Coast Guard through ceremonial operations held before world leaders and dignitaries. (Coast Guard photo/Petty Officer 2nd Class Walter Shinn)

Written by Seaman Martin Andrada, Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard

There is no greater honor than lying to rest the remains of a fallen shipmate. To pay proper tribute to one’s military service, and provide the family with one last treasured memory before they have to say goodbye is something that is hard to describe or put into words. It is a powerful experience. It is vital to show the families of the deceased that a grateful nation remembers their years of service and sacrifice.

Seaman Martin Andrada
Seaman Martin Andrada

These are but a few of the things that go through my mind as I stand in Arlington National Cemetery as a member of the United States Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard, rendering military honors to deceased Coast Guard men and women.

The months of training, hours of uniform and equipment maintenance, honing of your skills daily with a rifle, flag, bugle, or by carrying a casket are all worth the commitment and dedication. It is all preparation for what we at the Honor Guard are committed to carrying out. We work to flawlessly perform and bring honor to our service, our country, and the deceased.

When one finally earns an Honor Guard badge, you commit to a creed that states:

I am an Honor Guardsman.

I will proudly stand beside my shipmates despite the discomforting elements;

I will maintain poise on and off the parade field;

I will exceed the standards and accept nothing less than perfection.

I will honor all Coast Guard men and women both living and dead.

I will respect the Honor Guard Mission and my seniors.

I will devote my maximum effort unto this sacred duty.

By wearing this rope I have accepted a commitment to excellence as a way of life.

All of this and more will be tested and pushed to the limits at some point while performing military honors. But there is nothing like seeing the appreciation and respect in the eyes of the family of the deceased. Hearing kind words from a family member and how much it means to them that their loved one was honored in such a way is a moment that can never be forgotten.

Whether it is in the bitter cold or stifling heat, you will see us at Arlington National Cemetery honoring those who came before us and ensuring that they are sent off with the proper dignity and respect that they have so honorably earned.

Members from the Coast Guard Honor Guard, based in Arlington, Va., prepare to render military honors during the 35th annual Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn memorial ceremony in St. Petersburg, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. The crew of the Blackthorn collided with the motor vessel Capricorn on Jan. 28, 1980, resulting in the service's worst peacetime disaster. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ashley J. Johnson)
Members from the Coast Guard Honor Guard, based in Arlington, Va., prepare to render military honors during the 35th annual Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn memorial ceremony in St. Petersburg, Fla., Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2015. The crew of the Blackthorn collided with the motor vessel Capricorn on Jan. 28, 1980, resulting in the service’s worst peacetime disaster. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ashley J. Johnson)

 

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