Honoring the Guard The Saratoga National Cemetery Honor Guard’s ongoing GoFundMe campaign to raise funds for a new bus and uniforms has surpassed $26,000 since it started on May 24.
“This is fantastic,” said Al Poole, the Vice Commander and Commander-elect of the Guard. “I mean, I’m completely knocked over.”
He added “Some of the guys have pants on that are not the same kind of uniform pants as us because we don’t have enough uniform pants to fit some of the guys, so we have to order new ones.”
Poole said that the crowdfunding idea started when their bus was in disrepair and Fox News’s Fox and Friends contacted them to appear on the show on Memorial Day.
“They wanted us to show them how to fold a flag, and the meaning of each fold,” he said. The Guard was later invited back for Flag Day this past Friday, June 14.
Fox and Friends suggested the Guard make a GoFundMe, since they could promote the link at the bottom of the screen could promote the link.
Another member of the Guard chimed in to say that the main support frame of the bus “looked like Swiss cheese,” noting how a wooden box beneath the bus was holding up the stairs.
“Why do we need a bus?” Poole asked, “It’s very simple. Our ages in this organization range from 62 to 93.”
He said that the Guard performs its duties no matter the weather, from the hottest and most humid day of the summer to the most frigid day in the dead of winter.
“We had a funeral party coming up out of New York City this past winter,” he recollected. During the trip, one of the cars blew a tire, forcing the precession to pull over.
Poole said that the funeral was supposed to take place at 1:30 in the afternoon. Instead it happened after 5:00, in over two feet of snow, with the Honor Guard still present.
The Guard already has a three-person committee in place to look for new buses, and Poole said that they weren’t looking for much in the way of additional features, just a bus with air conditioning and heating.
“We’re not getting the roof racks over the top,” Poole said. “No special kind of seating or anything, a simple little bus that has air conditioning and heating in it, that’s all.”
He added that they were looking for a new bus, so that they could have active warranties and guarantees in case of future problems, and that the final goal of $75,000 would be split with 80% of the funds going towards a new bus and the remaining 20% going to new uniforms.
Poole concluded by mentioning that the Guard is always accepting any honorably discharged serviceperson as new members and that anyone wanting to donate to the Guard could either use the GoFundMe or send their donation directly to the Gerald B.H. Solomon Saratoga National Cemetery.