Illinois National Guard

The Old Guard
Tomb of the Unknown
Rifle Volley
21 Gun Salute
Use of Flags
Caparisoned Horse
Wars (Past & Present)

In every culture throughout history we see warriors who have died in battle escorted to their final resting place by their brothers in arms. It was a way to show respect and honor to a warrior who had died a good death in combat. In the U.S. Army's early days this escort was the soldier's unit. The unit as a whole would gather and form a procession from the deceased quarters to the burial site. There the deceased would be honored with military honors, given a service and interred. Then, units were smaller and close knit units. Soldiers could serve out their career with the same unit. Deaths were at a manageable rate, unlike the meat grinders we began to see during the Civil War. The Civil War brought on many changes in the conducting of memorial affairs. We began to see burial details left behind moving armies to clean up battlefields and bury the dead. At the ending of the war we have regulations being written on funeral requirements. The responsibility for the burial was shifting from the unit to detailed units assigned memorial affairs details. This was published and updated yearly. This change caused the escort size to be determined by the rank of the deceased. This is the first time in our history that we begin to see rank as a determining factor in the honors rendered to the dead. The size of the escort continues to be modified even today. With added mission resources being pulled from units, this changed their ability to support some requirements. Recently only O-5s and above will now receive 2 PLT escorts while the officers in the ranks of O-1 thru O-4 receive 1 PLT escorts.