Formerly known as Decoration Day, it originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. By the 20th century Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who have died while in the military service.
Communities around the country will be holding events all weekend from parades to memorials to honor those who have died in military service. And many volunteers including active duty military, Boy Scout troops, American Legions and others will show their respect for the fallen by placing a small flag on each grave in 146 national cemeteries across America.
For example, each year for the past 40 years, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) has honored America’s fallen heroes with the “Flags In” tradition by placing American flags before the 260,000 gravestones and 7,300 niches of service members buried at both Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldier’s and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery just prior to Memorial Day.
Below: A mourner, believed to be Air Force Reserve Captain Teresa Dutcher, lies at the grave of her son Corporal Michael Avery Pursel at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. She visited the cemetery at the conclusion of the “Flags In” event on May 24, 2012 per PDN.
© Jemal Countess/Redux via PDN
The Tomb of the Unknowns is a monument dedicated to American service members who have died without their remains being identified. It is also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier but has never been officially named. The tomb guards are soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment. It is considered one of the highest honors to serve as a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Fewer than 20 percent of all volunteers are accepted for training and of those only a fraction pass training to become full-fledged Tomb Guards. One of the most solemn ceremonies that occurs at the Tomb of the Unknowns is where the president or his designee lays a wreath to mark the national observance of Memorial Day.
An amazing photo that went viral a few years ago was taken by amateur photographer Frank Glick was on his way to work. He drove through Fort Snelling National Cemetery early one morning and spotted a bald eagle through the mist, perched on a gravestone, and snapped shots with his aging but ever-present camera, according to the Star Tribune. An acquaintance saw the photo and suggested that he see if the deceased soldier had any living relatives who might want it. Indeed, Maurice Ruch’s widow was alive and well and delighted to receive a copy of the eagle watching over her beloved husband.
Words cannot properly express the gratitude for all those who have sacrificed so much… but please remember to take a moment this long weekend to honor our nation’s fallen heroes.
Stay safe, j & B