Visiting The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery brings home the sacrifice our military men and women make for freedom.
Posted in , May 24, 2016
Today’s guest blogger is Barbara Latta.
On a visit to Arlington National Cemetery a few years ago on Memorial Day, my husband, Ken, and I visited The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The distinctive sarcophagus is guarded day and night by an elite band of hand-selected soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment.
Serving since 1784, this is the oldest active duty infantry regiment and is the official ceremonial unit of the U.S. Army. The importance of the work these soldiers do is evident in the attention to detail they give to their duties.
We watched in reverent silence as the soldier marched in front of the tomb 21 steps across the black mat. He paused for 21 seconds and then he turned and took another 21 steps in the opposite direction in honor of the remains housed in the tomb. This march represents a continuous 21 gun salute.
Many people were seated in the amphitheater above the graves watching. Whispers escalated into raised voices as some visitors let their enthusiasm overtake the remembrance of where they were.
The soldier left his guard area on the black mat for a few seconds, raised his voice and declared, “It is requested that visitors maintain an air of silence and respect at all times.” The crowd became quiet again, and we watched the guards perform a detailed and precise ceremony to change their duty stations.
Standing on the hill in front of Arlington House, the view across the grass below was swathed in red, white and blue flags waving in the wind in front of the white marble crosses. This sight brings reality to mind of the price paid to endow our country with the blessings and freedom we all now enjoy.
We can do no less than to honor those who have paid the ultimate cost for our country. From the Revolutionary War to present day, our nation has given up many men and women defending the right to be free.
As the day progressed and our visit came to an end, we watched the flags flutter in the breeze while “Taps” rang out from a lone bugle. The day closed and the sun began to set over the honored ground.
And another soldier continued the procession across the black mat. One, two, three, four, five…
Barbara Latta is the wife of a Navy veteran and the mother of two sons who are Army and Air Force veterans.