I was in Washington, D.C. last week and visited Arlington National Cemetery. We were honored to have a front row seat for the changing of the guard. It is an incredibly moving ceremony and reminded me of just how dedicated our service people and their families are to the cause of our freedom.
In 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown was erected to honor all missing and unknown service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Not only their lives but also their identities.
Interred in the tomb are soldiers from World War I, World War II and the Korean War. There was a soldier from the Vietnam War entombed until 1994 when the family of Air Force Captain Michael J. Blassie received credible information that he was the unknown.
Because of President Reagan’s promise (that continues today), to “write no last chapters, close no books, or put away final memories,” the remains were exhumed, DNA tested and confirmed to be Captain Blassie. He was given a military burial in his home state of Missouri.
The Tomb Guards are part of a rare group of soldiers and take their duty very seriously. The guards perform their changing ceremony every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in all weather conditions.
Everything is done in intervals of 21 to allude to the 21 gun salute which signifies the highest military honor. 21 steps while “walking the mat,” 21 second pause to face the tomb. Each movement by the soldier is marked with a sharp click of their military taps on their shoes. The soldier and his gun are always between the tomb and the visitor–always on guard.
Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful place with thousands of graves of not only soldiers and their families but also non-military dignitaries and former Presidents.
When visiting this sacred place, it is impossible not to feel proud, patriotic and grateful.
Arlington House, Robert E. Lee’s former residence and now memorial, sits atop a hill and the view is quite magnificent.
Please remember all of those who keep us safe, all those who have served, all those who have sacrificed.
If you are visiting Washington, D.C., make sure to see Arlington.
Thank a veteran today.