CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Tryouts are coming up for a select group that pays final tribute to veterans.
Annual tryouts for the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery Honor Guard will be at 1 p.m. Friday.
The 354-acre cemetery opened in May 2012. The Honor Guard provides taps, rifle volley, and folding and presentation of the flag to the next of kin.
The Honor Guard is a nonprofit organization made up of dedicated volunteers, said Tom Hamilton, vice president of the group and a U.S. Army veteran.
"It's an honor to do military honors for veterans," Hamilton said.
John Hancock, president of the Honor Guard and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, said, "I believe every veteran deserves it for serving in the military."
While the group's main focus is to volunteer at the new veterans cemetery, they also participate in other special ceremonies and parades.
Those who may join include former members of the military with honorable discharges and those who are now on active duty with reserves.
There is also a category called "associate," which includes others who are in good standing in the community. That is to give people who were unable to serve in the military for reasons such as health issues a chance to be part of the group.
Members of the group do everything from serve as pallbearers and fold flags to deliver taps and rifle salute. They also collect spent cartridges and put them in a bag for the family.
"There is always something to do," Hancock said. "We go into schools and teach fifth-graders how to display and fold a flag."
Larissa Wines, administrative manager at the cemetery, said, "The Honor Guard plays a vital role in services. It is a nonprofit with its own rules and established criteria. They provide services for us."