Several years ago, a shortage of military musicians forced honor guard teams into “faking it” using MP 3 players and holding a bugle at veteran’s funerals. Today, the Air Force says they do not have the personnel to give their dead heroes a 21-gun salute, or more accurately, a “three-volley salute”.
A spokesperson for the Air Force said they no longer have “funding or personnel” to provide the salute, ostensibly due to sequestration cutbacks.
A full military funeral traditionally consists of a solemn rendering of Taps, a folded American flag presented to a family member, and a three-volley salute. While other branches of the military, so far, have not eliminated the rifle volley, the Air Force says, “sorry, we no longer provide that honor.”
Reportedly, a memo has been sent to all funeral homes saying the “honor guard will reduce retiree and veteran funeral details from a seven-person detail to a three-person detail”. Now, three service members will turn on an MP 3 player inside a bugle, and fold and present the flag to the widow, mother, or other designated family member.
For military families, the Air Force’s new “no gun salute” rings hollow, knowing they made sacrifices big and small for the country they served and love. Since the rifle-volley is typically performed by Reservists who reside in the community, to the grieving families their absence seems more mean-spirited and disrespectful than anything else.
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