USA — Old Guard Soldiers Put ‘Flags In’ at Arlington Cemetery

WASHINGTON, May 27, 2010 — More than 1,500 ser­vice­mem­bers from the “Old Guard” and oth­er cer­e­mo­ni­al units gath­ered at Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery today for a sacred rit­u­al mark­ing the start of the Memo­r­i­al Day week­end obser­vance.

The men and women, rep­re­sent­ing all the ser­vices and Coast Guard, car­ried ruck­sacks full of small Amer­i­can flags, per­form­ing the time-hon­ored Flags In event of mark­ing the cemetery’s more than 350,000 white head­stones with the stars and stripes.

“This is one of the many dis­tinct hon­ors entrust­ed to the Old Guard,” Army Maj. Rosy Pou­los, 3rd Infantry pub­lic affairs offi­cer, said. “They’re out here until every flag is placed, whether that’s 6:30 or 9:30 [p.m.]”

Sgt. Patrick Smith, from the Old Guard’s B Com­pa­ny, has placed flags in the ceme­tery for the past three years. Though the work is repet­i­tive, he said, he con­sid­ers it an hon­or. “It’s a good way to hon­or the fall­en, the ones who gave so many years of their lives, or their life itself, to the ser­vice of our coun­try,” he said.

Smith said once he starts to see the head­stones, and reads as he places each flag, a feel­ing of respect and rev­er­ence takes over.

“Once you start walk­ing, and you see the head­stones, there’s a cer­tain con­nec­tion, sort of an esprit de corps,” Smith said. “You see them and you get a feel­ing for how many have giv­en their lives. It does­n’t mat­ter what rank they held or what ser­vice they were a part of, each are treat­ed as hon­or­ably as the oth­er, they each get a flag.”

Staff Sgt. Rob Woodring placed flags for the first time today. At first he was­n’t sure what to expect, beyond the task itself. But he said it’s impos­si­ble not to feel a con­nec­tion when sur­round­ed by gen­er­a­tions of ser­vice­mem­bers.

“These peo­ple all gave their lives to the mil­i­tary, and to our coun­try, whether they’re here because they ded­i­cat­ed their lives to ser­vice or gave their lives in ser­vice,” he said. Flags-in has been per­formed annu­al­ly since 1948 when the Old Guard was named the Army’s offi­cial cer­e­mo­ni­al unit. The Old Guard includes the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Sol­dier, the Con­ti­nen­tal Col­or Guard and all Army funer­als at Arling­ton Nation­al Ceme­tery. The flags will be removed ear­ly June 1 before the ceme­tery opens.

Each flag is cen­tered pre­cise­ly one foot in front of the head­stone. Many sol­diers use gloves equipped with wood, plas­tic, or met­al plates to pro­tect their hands as they place, on aver­age, more than 230 flags each. Though some said they’d like a cool­er day, none com­plained about the task itself.

“We’re part of some­thing spe­cial,” Mas­ter Sgt. Kris­tine Zielin­s­ki said. “We get to hon­or our com­rades.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →