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Every Day is "Memorial Day"

 

 

 

 


Click on above for a list and links to those killed at the Pentagon
 and buried in Arlington National Cemetery


September 11, 2001 Memorial Site

This site is dedicated to all who fought and are buried at Arlington National Cemetery

 

Photo taken during National Moment of Remembrance, Tomb of the Unknowns
Copyright © 2001-2002 Stephen R. Scherr  
Pause and give thanks 3:00 PM on Memorial Day
Required by Public Law 106-579

National Moment of Remembrance

"So to the indifferent inquirer who asks why Memorial Day is still kept up we may answer, it celebrates and solemnly reaffirms from year to year a national act of enthusiasm and faith. It embodies in the most impressive form our belief that to act with enthusiasm and faith is the condition of acting greatly. To fight out a war, you must believe something and want something with all your might. So must you do to carry anything else to an end worth reaching." [Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. at an address delivered for Memorial Day, May 30, 1884, at Keene, NH.] 

 


Presidential Wreath Tomb of the Unknowns Memorial Day 2001
Copyright © 2001-2002 Stephen R. Scherr
  

 

Blue Angels in Missing Man Formation courtesy of Blue Angels Alumni Assoc.

 

 


Flags  copyrighted by Stephen R. Scherr. © 2001-2002  Do not use without permission.

 

 

History of Arlington National  Cemetery

 
Arlington Mansion and 200 acres of ground immediately surrounding it
were designated officially as a military cemetery June 15, 1864,
by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. 

More than 260,000 people are buried at Arlington Cemetery. 

Veterans from all the nation's wars are buried in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through the Persian Gulf War and Somalia. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900. 

The federal government dedicated a model community for freed slaves, Freedman's Village,  near the current Memorial Amphitheater, Dec. 4, 1863. More than 1,100 freed slaves were given land by the government, where they farmed and lived during and after the Civil War. They were turned out in 1890 when the estate was repurchased by the government and dedicated as a military installation. 

In Section 27, are buried more than 3,800 former slaves, called "Contrabands" during the Civil War. Their headstones are designated with the word "Civilian" or "Citizen." 

Arlington National Cemetery and Soldiers Home National Cemetery are administered by the Department of the Army. All other National Cemeteries are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the National Park Service. 

Arlington House (Custis-Lee Mansion) and the grounds in its immediate vicinity are administered by the National Park Service. 

The flags in Arlington National Cemetery are flown at half-staff from a half hour before the first funeral until a half hour after the last funeral each day. Funerals are normally conducted five days a week, excluding weekends. 

Funerals, including interments and inurnments, average 20 a day. 

With more than 260,000 people buried, Arlington National Cemetery has the second-largest number of people buried of any national cemetery in the United States. Arlington National Cemetery conducts approximately 5,400 burials each year. The largest of the 130 national cemeteries is the Calverton National Cemetery, on Long Island, near Farmingdale, N.Y. That cemetery conducts more than 7,000 burials each year. 

The Tomb of the Unknowns is one of the more-visited sites at Arlington National Cemetery The Tomb is made from Yule marble quarried in Colorado. It consists of seven pieces, with a total weight of 79 tons. The Tomb was completed and opened to the public April 9, 1932, at a cost of $48,000. 

Three unknown servicemen are buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns: 


A joint-service casket team holds a U.S. flag outstretched above the casket bearing the remains of the Vietnam Unknown, while President Ronald Reagan places a wreath at the casket's head during entombment ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.

  • Unknown Soldier of World War I, interred Nov. 11, 1921. President Harding presided.
  • Unknown Soldier of World War II, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided. 
  • Unknown Soldier of the Korean Conflict, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided, Vice President Nixon acted as next of kin.
  • An Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam Conflict, interred May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided. 

The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, whose family has reinterred him near their home in St. Louis, Mo. It has been determined that the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain empty.) 

The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded by the U.S. Army 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) began guarding the Tomb April 6, 1948. 

On July 24, 1998, U.S. Capitol Police Officers John Michael Gibson, 42, and Jacob Joseph Chestnut, 58, were killed in the line of duty. They are buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Special Agent Gibson is buried in Section 28. Officer Chestnut, a retired Air Force master sergeant, is buried in Section 4. 

In addition to in-ground burial, Arlington National Cemetery also has one of the larger columbariums for cremated remains in the country. Four courts are currently in use, each with 5,000 niches. 

When construction is complete, there will be nine courts with a total of 50,000 niches; capacity for 100,000 remains. Any honorably discharged veteran is eligible for inurnment in the columbarium.

Information on important burials and locations click here

Photos and information Courtesy of the Military District of Washington

 

19 U.S. Marines Raiders return home after 59 years from the
Makin Atoll
On 17 August 2001 13 of the Raiders are buried at
Arlington National Cemetery

Click on link to view story and images


Photo Courtesy Military District of Washington

 

Freedom Is Not Free


I watched the flag pass by one day.
It fluttered in the breeze.
A young Marine saluted it,
And then he stood at ease.
I looked at him in uniform
So young, so tall, so proud,
He'd stand out in a crowd.
I thought how many men like him
had fallen through the years.
How many had died on foreign soil?
How many mothers' tears?
How many pilots' planes shot down?
How many died at sea?
How many foxholes were soldiers' graves?
No, freedom is not free.


I heard the sound of Taps one night,
when everything was still
I listened to the bugler play
And felt a sudden chill.
I wondered just how many times
That Taps had meant "Amen"
When a flag had draped a coffin
Of brother or a friend.
I thought of all the children,
Of mothers and the wives,
Of fathers, sons and husbands
with interrupted lives.


I thought about a graveyard
At the bottom of the sea
Of unmarked graves in Arlington...
No, freedom is not free.


Author Unknown

 

 

usa_gm.gif (24152 bytes)"That Ragged Old Flag"usa_gm.gif (24152 bytes)

I walked through a county courthouse square

On a park bench, an old man was sittin there.

I said, "Your court house is kinda run down,

He said, "No, it will do for our little town".

I said "your old flag pole kinda leaned a little bit,

And that’s a ragged old flag you got hanging on it".

He said "have a seat", so I sat down,

He said, "is this your first visit to our little town"

I said, "I think it is"

He said "I don’t like to brag, but we’re kinda proud of

usaC.gif (10636 bytes)"That Ragged Old Flag"usaC.gif (10636 bytes)

"You see, we got a little hole in that flag there,

When Washington took it across the Delaware.

It got powder burned the night Francis Scott Key sat watching it, writing

"Oh Say Can You See"

It got a rip in New Orleans, with Packingham & Jackson

tugging at its seams.

It almost fell at the Alamo beside the Texas flag,

But she waved on tho.

It got cut with a sword in Chancellorsville,

Got cut again at Shiloh Hill.

There was Robert E. Lee and Beauregard and Bragg,

And the south wind blew hard on

"That Ragged Old Flag"

usa_gm.gif (24152 bytes)

On Flanders Field in World War I,

She took a bad hit from a Bertha Gun,

She turned blood red in World War II

She hung limp and low by the time that one was through,

She was in Korea, Vietnam, She went where she was sent

by her Uncle Sam.

usa_gm.gif (24152 bytes)

The Native Americans, The Black, Yellow and White

All shed red blood for the Stars and Stripes.

And here in her own good land,

She’s been abused, burned, dishonored, denied and refused,

And the very government for which she stands

Has been scandalized throughout out the land.

And she’s getting thread bare, and she’s wearing kinda thin,

But she’s in pretty good shape, for the shape she’s in.

Cause she’s been through the fire before

and she can take a whole lot more.

usa_gm.gif (24152 bytes)

So we raise her up every morning

And we bring her down slow every night,

We don’t let her touch the ground,

And we fold her up right.

On second thought
I do like to brag

Cause I’m mighty proud of

usa_gm.gif (24152 bytes)"That Ragged Old Flag"usa_gm.gif (24152 bytes)

Written by Johnny Cash

 


The above photo courtesy of Department of Defense & ArlingtonCemetery.com


In 1865, Henry C. Welles, a druggist in the village of Waterloo, NY, mentioned at a social gathering that honor should be shown to the patriotic dead of the Civil War by decorating their graves.
In the Spring of 1866, he again mentioned this subject to General John B. Murray, Seneca County Clerk. General Murray embraced the idea and a committee was formulated to plan a day devoted to honoring the dead.
Townspeople adopted the idea wholeheartedly. Wreaths, crosses and bouquets were made for each veteran's grave. The village was decorated with flags at half mast and draped with evergreen boughs and mourning black streamers.
On May 5, 1866, civic societies joined the procession to the three existing cemeteries and were led by veterans marching to martial music. At each cemetery there were impressive and lengthy services including speeches by General Murray and a local clergyman. The ceremonies were repeated on May 5, 1867.
The first official recognition of Memorial Day as such was issued by General John A. Logan, first commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. This was General Order No. 11 establishing "Decoration Day" as it was then known. The date of the order was May 5, 1868, exactly two years after Waterloo's first observance. That year Waterloo joined other communities in the nation by having their ceremony on May 30.

In 1965, a committee of community leaders started plans for the Centennial Celebration of Memorial Day. The committee consisted of VFW Commander James McCann, chairman, American Legion Commander Oliver J. McFall and Mayor Marion DeCicca, co-chairman, along with Village Trustees, M. Lewis Somerville, Roscoe Bartran, Richard Schreck, Tony DiPronio, and VFW Vice-Commander, Kenneth Matoon. Their goals were: "to obtain national recognition of the fact that Waterloo is the birthplace of Memorial Day through Congressional action" and "to plan and execute a proper celebration for such centennial observance."
In May of 1966, just in time for the Centennial, Waterloo was recognized as the "Birthplace of Memorial Day" by the United States Government. This recognition was long in coming and involved hours of painstaking research to prove the claim. While other communities may claim earlier observances of honoring the Civil War dead, none can claim to have been so well planned and complete, nor can they claim the continuity of observances that Waterloo can.
The Centennial Celebration that year brought dignitaries from government, military, veteran's organizations and descendants of the original founders of Memorial Day. A once luxurious home on Waterloo's Main Street, built in 1850, was purchased from the county and restored. Now the Memorial Day Museum, it houses artifacts of the first Memorial Day and the Civil War era.


"Flags In" Arlington National Cemetery  Copyright © 2001 Stephen R. Scherr 

The custom of honoring the graves of the war dead began prior to the end of the Civil War, but the national Memorial Day holiday (or "Decoration Day," as it was originally named) was first observed on May 30, 1868, on the order of General John Alexander Logan for the purpose of decorating the graves of the American Civil War dead. With the passage of time, Memorial Day was extended to honor all those who died in service to the nation, from the Revolutionary War to the present. It continued to be observed on May 30th until 1971, when most states changed to a newly established federal schedule of holiday observance. 

Confederate Memorial Day, once a legal holiday in many southern states, is still observed on the fourth Monday in April in Alabama, and the last Monday in April in Mississippi and Georgia. 

 

A National Moment of Remembrance    

May of 1997 saw the start of what is becoming an American tradition recognized by the President and Members of Congress -- to put the "memorial" back in Memorial Day. The idea of a National Moment of Remembrance was born a year earlier when children touring Lafayette Park in Washington, DC were asked what Memorial Day meant and they responded, "That's the day the pools open!"

The "Moment" was initiated by No Greater Love, a Washington, DC-based national humanitarian organization. For the first time in U.S. history, on Memorial Day 1997 "Taps" was played at 3 p.m. in many locations and at events throughout America. This effort was repeated again in 1998 and 1999. 

The objective of the "Moment" is to raise Americans' awareness of the honorable contributions made by those who died while defending our nation and to encourage all Americans to honor those who died as a result of service to this nation by pausing for one minute at 3:00 p.m. (local time) on Memorial Day.

The National Park Service 

While we choose to celebrate Memorial Day only once a year, there are a number of U.S. national parks that are 365-day-a-year memorials and testaments to Americans killed in battle throughout our nation's history. Among the many national parks that commemorate the American Revolution are places like Minute Man National Historical Park, Cowpens National Battlefield, and Fort Stanwix National Monument. The Civil War is remembered through places like Fort Sumter National Monument, Antietam National Battlefield, and Vicksburg National Military Park. Memorials to more recent wars include the Korean War Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Vietnam Women's Memorial, and the soon to be built National World War II Memorial

 


Photo courtesy of ArlintonCemetery.com

 

 


A Soldier Died Today

by R.F. Dees and his grandson, Justin Pierce in honor of Memorial Day

and veterans who have fought in wars and conflicts.
(Posted: Marietta Monitor, Marietta, OK May 28, 1999)

He was getting old and paunchy and his hair was falling fast;
And he sat around the Legion, telling stories of the past.
Of a war that he had fought in and the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies, they were heroes everyone.
And tho' sometimes to his neighbors, his tales became a joke,
All his legion buddies listened, for they knew whereof he spoke.
But we'll hear his tales no longer, for old John has passed away;
And the world's a little poorer, for a soldier died today.
He'll not be mourned by many, just his children and his wife,
For he lived an ordinary and quite uneventful life.
Held a job and raised a family, quietly going his own way,
And the world won't note his passing, though a soldier died today.
When politicians leave this earth, their bodies lie in state,
And thousands note their passing and proclaim that they were great.
Newspapers tell their life stories, from the time that they were young.
But, the passing of a simple Soldier goes unnoticed and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution to the welfare of our land,
A person who breaks promises and cons his fellow man,
Or the ordinary fellow, who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his Country and offers his life?
It"s so easy to forget them, for it was so long ago,
That the "old Johns" of our country went to battle, but we know,
It was not the politicians, with their promises and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom that our Country now enjoys.
He was just a "common soldier" and his ranks are growing thin.
But, his presence should remind us, we may need his like again.
For when countries are in conflict, then we find the Soldier's part,
Is to clean up the troubles, that others often start.
If we cannot give him honor, while he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least, let's give him homage at the ending of his days.
Perhaps a simple notice, in the paper that would say,
"Our country is in mourning, cause a Soldier passed away today."

 


Official USMC Photo: Burial of Col. Col. Scherr, USMC

 


Arlington National Cemetery

 


Visit Arlington National Cemetery

Click here for the "Official" Arlington Cemetery Site

 

 
History of "Taps" 

 

The STORY BEHIND the Song "TAPS"

We have all heard the haunting song, "Taps." It's the song

that gives us that lump in our throats and usually creates tears

in our eyes. But, do you know the story behind the song?

If not, I think you will be pleased to find out about it's

humble beginnings.

Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the Civil War, when

Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near

Harrison's Landing in Virginia.

The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow

strip of land. During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard

moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field.

Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier,

the Captain decided to risk his life and bring

the stricken man back for medical attention.

Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain

reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his

encampment. When the Captain finally reached his own lines,

he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the

soldier was dead. The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly

caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light,

he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son. The boy had

been studying music in the South when the war broke out.

Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate

Army. The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked

permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial

despite his enemy status.

His request was only partially granted. The Captain had

asked if he could have a group of Army band members

play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request

was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.

But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could

give him only one musician. The Captain chose a bugler.

He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he

had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead

youth's uniform. This wish was granted.

The haunting melody, we now know as "Taps"

used at military funerals, was born.

Day is done

Gone the sun

From the lakes

From the hills

From the sky.

All is well,

Safely rest.

God is nigh.

Fading light

Dims the sight

And a star

Gems the sky,

Gleaming bright

From afar,

Drawing nigh,

Falls the night.

Thanks and praise,

For our days,

Neath the sun,

Neath the stars,

Neath the sky,

As we go,

This we know,

God is nigh.

I too, have felt the chills while listening to "Taps"

but I have never seen all the words to the song until now.

I didn't even know there was more than one verse.

I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn't

know if you had either so I thought I'd pass it along. I now

have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.

Have an enjoyable Memorial Day, And make sure you

take a moment to remember those who have served!

For more information on "TAPS" go to http://www.west-point.org/taps/Taps.html

 

 


Click here to go to Tribute to my father Col. Robert A. Scherr, USMC

 


Click here to go to My POW/MIA Index

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This page was last updated: 05/27/2003 00:34:21

Copyright © 2001-2003  Stephen R. Scherr

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