KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — What’s it like to be 73 years old, but still be the new kid in the honor guard? Retired Major John Parris can tell you.  

A little less than a year ago he began volunteering with the Honor Guard. 

“It’s about serving each other. Taking care of each other,” he said.            

Parris is part of the Honor Guard providing solemn respect to a former serviceman who recently passed away.  

“They work hard at having families have closure,” said Parris.

He is one of the new guys on the team, joining the honor guard about 11 months ago.  

“I feel grateful to be a part of it and accepted by them,” said Parris.

He served in the Army all over the world and taught military science at the University of Tennessee. He said once you serve, it’s hard to stop.  

“I think I am trying to re-live some of the military. Being a servant,” said Parris. “Why do I continue to get up and put on a clean uniform and look straight and be right? It’s part of that service mentality. You want to be part of a team. It’s very gratifying.” 

He and the others in the honor guard will tell you that as much as it soothes their service souls, the important part is really for the families saying their final goodbyes.  

“When I see a loved one who feels better about the passing then I know we’ve done our professional duty and our job,” said Parris.

Parris said he joined the guard after being challenged to try it out by the former Head of Nursing at UT.