BLUE SPRINGS, Mo - "Neither Rain, nor Sleet, nor gloom of night" may belong to the U.S. Postal Oath, but for one Blue Springs man, it also dictates his approach to his passion.
"I've been where the snow is up about 12-inches or so," said Leo Sebelski. "I've been in rain where even with a raincoat my pants were like a wick and I'd get wet all the way up to the waist. And there have been times where it's scorching hot. But that's all part of what I volunteered for to do for the family of the deceased and the deceased."
While most of us will attend few funerals over our lives, Leo Sebelski plays the bugle, fires shots and gives honor at several dozen every single year.
In fact, Leo, a former Air Force Master Sergeant turned honor guard member recently reached his 500th funeral. He volunteers to lay to rest fallen military members through the the Stanley-Pack American Legion Post 499 of Blue Springs.
"I'm doing it because I was always very lucky," said Leo. "I was never in combat. This is my way of expressing my thanks to the veterans for some of the terrible things they went through."
While every funeral is sad for Leo, he said the rate of dying World War II vets and the number young people returning from current conflicts are what choke him up the most.
"Freedom is not free," he said. "There is somebody giving their final breath, their lives for it."
Leo said when he joined Post 499 thirteen years ago, there were around 30 members who served on the honor guard. These days there are only nine. It takes seven to do the ceremony.
Families of deceased military can arrange for an honor guard procession at their loved one's funeral. Those arrangements should be made through the funeral home.