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Volunteers ensure local Memorial Day events receive an honor guard

by JEREMY WEBER
Daily Inter Lake | May 28, 2022 12:00 AM

The United Veterans of Flathead Valley will once again have a busy Memorial Day.

Founded in October 1985, the volunteer service group provides military honors at veteran’s funerals throughout the valley, conducts flag retirement and raising ceremonies, acts as a color guard for several organizations and has marched in several parades.

Over the years, the organization has participated in Veterans Day ceremonies at Depot Park, the 9/11 ceremonies held annually by the Flathead Lake Lodge, joined in Wreaths Across America ceremonies at multiple valley cemeteries and even hosted an annual barbeque lunch for the residents of the Montana Veterans Home in Columbia Falls prior to the pandemic.

“It is a privilege to be able to provide military honors for all that deserve them,” Navy veteran and Honor Guard Captain Mary Lou Fitzpatrick said. “It is something that every veteran has earned and deserves. It means a lot to the families. It really does.”

When her father-in-law, an Army veteran who served in North Africa and Italy during World War II, passed away in 2010, Fitzpatrick was impressed by the group that provided honors at the funeral. She thought to herself, “I could do that.”

After taking the members of the group out for a beer, she signed up.

Captain of the Honor Guard since 2017, Fitzpatrick and her fellow United Veterans do all they can to make sure military honors are provided whenever and wherever they are needed in the Flathead Valley, from Whitefish to Marion, Columbia Falls to Kila and beyond.

“We wanted to make sure that military honors could be provided for all that deserved them,” she said. “Before the organization was formed, it was pretty hit or miss as to whether or not someone would be available to provide those honors when needed. We make sure that is no longer a problem.”

The group’s 20 members, which range in age from their mid 40s to late 80s, will once again have a busy Memorial Day as they will provide their first services at 10:15 in the morning and will be at six different locations for ceremonies around the valley until after 3:00 in the afternoon.

“It’s important to honor people’s service and it really means a lot to the families,” Fitzpatrick said. It’s a good thing to be involved in and we are proud to do it.”

Memorial Day Ceremonies

10:15 a.m. Ceremony at Glacier Memorial Gardens cemetery

11 a.m. Ceremony at Veterans Memorial at Depot Park

11:45 a.m. VFW luncheon, Post 2252 in Kalispell

12:45 p.m. Ceremony to retire and raise flag at Conrad cemetery

1:45 p.m. Ceremony at Fairview cemetery

2:30 p.m. Ceremony at Woodlawn cemetery in Columbia Falls

3 p.m. Ceremony at Veterans Home cemetery in Columbia Falls

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