After serving in the Mexican-American War and the Civil War, General John Logan proposed to Congress that May 30th of each year be designated as Decoration Day to honor all those who had died while serving in the military. Eventually that day became known as Memorial Day and the specific time of 3:00 P.M. is when we should all stop, pause and remember. At cemeteries across the nation, flags are placed at each headstone - it is an act called “Flags in.” This year, 243,000 flags have been placed just at Arlington alone.
Growing up in Washington, D.C. and northern Virginia and with my Dad being in the Navy, Memorial Day was a yearly observance mainly and I cannot really recall ever associating the Day with BBQ’s, celebrations and big get togethers as the focus seems to be now.
With the passing of both Mom and Dad and their internment at Arlington National Cemetery last September, we wanted to mark this solemn Day by placing flowers at their gravesite. How to do that when many 100’s of miles away? I had held onto the card given to me by our assigned Arlington Lady and remembered she had said with much feeling, if there was anything she could ever do, to please contact her. This I did and she immediately volunteered to receive the ordered flowers and take them to the gravesite. We have just received photographs that she emailed to us and my heart is so full of appreciation for her kindness and going the extra mile.
The tradition of the Arlington Ladies goes back to 1948 when the then Air Force Chief of Staff and his wife were attending a funeral and they noticed that nearby, an airman was being laid to rest with just the chaplain and Honor Guard present. There were no family members. This touched Mrs. Vandenberg so much that she decided to organize a group of Air Force officer’s wives and each one would be assigned to a funeral, regardless of whether family members would be present or not. It did not make any difference what rank the individual held that was being honored. From private to general, all would be treated with the same respect. Following the Air Force group, other branches of the military began their own team of Ladies and to this day, every funeral for a veteran has the appropriate branch represented. Their mission is not to grieve but to honor. At the funeral of my parents, I was not even aware of our Navy Arlington Lady until after the ceremony was over and she introduced herself. They stand quietly and respectfully and always ready to be of assistance if needed.
In closing, on May 30th, please take a moment at 3:00 P.M. to remember...