Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Arlington: Sergeant of the Guard's final walk

From US Army:

June 19, 2014
Staff Sgt. Jennifer C. Johnson, JFHQ-NCR/MDW Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (June 19, 2014) -- Sgt. 1st Class Tanner M. Welch, Sergeant of the Guard, 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), participated in his last walk and conducted a rose laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

As a tomb sentinel, the last walk is the last time a sentinel will be on the guard post. It is a time for reflection and remembrance of duty and respect for the Unknowns.
"I have enjoyed seeing the Tomb through rain, sweltering heat, and inches of snow," said Welch. "I have the advantage of being able to be present when there is no one but a lone guard and myself as well as the buzz and hum of thousands of visitors."

The rose laying ceremony gives the sentinel the opportunity to pay their last respects to the Unknowns with a physical gift versus the gift of self. A sentinel lays a single red rose at the white marble sarcophagus above the grave of the World War I Unknown, and then lays other red roses at the crypts of the Unknowns from World War II, Korea and Vietnam that lie directly in front of the sarcophagus.

"It is difficult to explain fully what it means to be a Tomb Guard," said Welch. "There are different meanings based on your point of view. To me, it means doing the best you can every day. We always fall short of our goal, perfection, but we all strive for that goal to the best of our ability."...
Much more - and pictures - here.

Lots of history you may not know, from the DoD:

There’s a lot you don’t know about Arlington National Cemetery

Carrie McLeroy, Soldiers

June 15, 1864, 200 acres of a 1,100-acre estate in Northern Virginia were officially designated for use as a national cemetery. Today, approximately 400,000 individuals are interred or inurned at the 624-acres of hallowed ground we know as Arlington National Cemetery.

While the cemetery was born out of the Civil War, there are veterans of every one of America’s conflicts, from the American Revolution through today, interred there. The stories of the men and women laid to rest at Arlington, known and unknown, are the stories of America.

To mark its 150th anniversary, ANC’s command historian, Dr. Stephen Carney provided us with a number of interesting tidbits about Arlington National Cemetery that you’ve likely never heard or read about.

You may not know that these people are buried at Arlington
  • Robert Todd Lincoln is buried in Section 31. He was the son of Abraham Lincoln and was the Secretary of War in 1883 when the Custis-Lee family was compensated for the Arlington Estate that had been seized at the beginning of the Civil War.
  • Samuel Dashiell Hammett, author of “The Maltese Falcon,” is buried in Section 12. Hammett is also a U.S. Army veteran of World Wars I and II.
  • There are several military veteran actors buried at Arlington National Cemetery, including Audie Murphy, Lee Marvin, Jackie Cooper and Charles Durning.
  • Anita Newcomb McGee is buried in Section 1. In 1898, she was the first woman to be appointed as the Acting Assistant Surgeon in the U.S. Army, and was in charge of the Army’s nurses under the Army Surgeon General’s Department. She pursued the establishment of a permanent nursing corps, which became the Army Nurse Corps.
  • James Parks is the only person buried in the cemetery who was also born on the property. Parks was a former slave who had worked at the Arlington House and later became a cemetery caretaker, likely burying thousands of service members. He died in 1929 and is buried in Section 15.
  • Three of the five flag raisers at Iwo Jima are buried at Arlington: Marine Corps Sgt. Michael Strank, Marine Corps Cpl. Ira Hayes, and Marine Corps Cpl. Rene Gagnon.
  • Most Americans know that President John F. Kennedy is buried at Arlington, but not as many may know that President William H. Taft is also buried there with his wife, Nellie. Taft was the 27th president of the United States and later served as the nation’s 10th chief justice — the only person to have served in both offices. Mrs. Taft was instrumental in bringing the Japanese Cherry Blossoms to the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C ...
 Much more very interesting history here.

[Related: Arlington Ladies make sure no one is ever buried alone ]

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