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Donations needed to establish new honor guard in the Northland

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DULUTH, MN-- There's a push to bring a new honor guard to the Northland.

An Honor Guard is a group of veterans who present flags and perform military honors at veterans funerals.

The Memorial Rifle Squad would perform honors for the new state veterans cemetery near Pike Lake.

The new unit would build on existing honor guards already found in Duluth, Cloquet and other areas around the Northland, but to get it off the ground, organizers say they need your help.

Local veteran John Marshall is the commanding organizer for the new honor guard, and is dedicated to its creation.

"End of life is not always the most dignified, so we really bring honor and the pride of the family member that served, because with service, there is sacrifice," Marshall said.

Marshall says the new group would help establish uniformity for honor guard ceremonies at the state cemetery, and provide resources that would encourage veterans from smaller organizations to join.

"We'll be able to establish policies and procedures that'll be necessary to ensure that military honors are done right," Marshall said.

Many local veterans have performed in honor guard ceremonies here in the Northland for decades.

They say it's incredibly meaningful for both the troops and their loved ones.

"It's a fantastic experience. You really can feel the hurt from these people when they lose somebody," said former honor guard member Michael Slaviero.

"It's good comradery. I think its a good way to support the families of service members," said honor guard member John Polacheck.

Marshall says they need donations now to get the honor guard ready to go.

Money raised would pay for state and IRS filing fees, and other resources, like uniforms.

"There's a lot of additional funds that are needed to establish this organization. I'm kinda paying for it out of pocket, hopefully I'll get re-reimbursed at some point, but again - if I had to pay to do military honors I would, because it's just that important to me," Marshall said.

Marshall says fully establishing this new Honor Guard will be a long and expensive process, but to those near and dear to the cause, it's worth it to give proper honor to our nation's heroes.

"It shows respect for the veterans when they pass on, and the community gets to see this, and understands more about what the veteran went through. and to me that means a lot too," Slaviero said.

If you're interested providing support, donations can be sent directly to the new veterans state cemetery location - 4777 Highway 53. Saginaw, MN. 55779.

Jenna Wells

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