Memorial Day is a poignant and somber opportunity to honor those who died serving their country. To the Army’s 3rd Infantry – the Old Guard – the has even more signficance.
The first Unknown Soldier was exhumed from a battlefield cemetery in France, on Memorial Day in 1921, and later buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.
Two Unknown Soldiers – from World War II and Korea – were buried in Arlington on Memorial Day in 1958.
At about the same time, Soldiers from the Old Guard – the unit responsible for guarding the tomb – began a tradition on the Thursday before Memorial Day of placing, “…small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.” (usmemorialday.org)
In 1984, an Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam War was buried there too, also on Memorial Day.
Memorial Day and the Old Guard – inexorably linked in history.