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I would like to personally say to all of the men and women
who are now, or who have ever, worn the uniform...thank you...
This page is dedicated to ALL those who have served this great country, and to my Grandfather, George Hangar, who fought with the U.S. 7th Calvary at the Solomon Islands, New Guinea and Layte Gulf in World War II where he won the Silver Star.
IT IS THE VETERAN...
It is the VETERAN, not the preacher,
who has given us freedom of religion.
It is the VETERAN, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It is the VETERAN, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It is the VETERAN, not the college student,
who has given us freedom to assemble.
It is the VETERAN, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.
It is the VETERAN, not the politician,
who has given us the right to vote.
It is the VETERAN who salutes the flag,
and it is the VETERAN who serves under the flag,
and whose coffin is draped by the flag,
"Eternal rest grant them, O Lord,
and let perpetual light shine upon them."
THE HISTORY OF "TAPS"
Click on the image to listen to "Taps"
We in the United States have all heard the haunting song, "Taps." It's the song that gives us that lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes. But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its 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 the 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. The words are:
Day is done. Gone the sun. From
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.
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Images from the Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC
Third Infantry Division Memorial
John F. Kennedy (left) and Jackie Kennedy Onassis (right)
Robert F. Kennedy
THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWNS
On ABC News it was reported that because of the dangers presented by Hurricane Isabelle as she approached Washington, D.C., that the soldiers assigned the duty of guarding the Unknown Soldier were given permission to "suspend" the assignment until the storm had passed.
Their response was a unanimous and loud "No way, sir!"
Soaked to the bone by the torrential rains that hit them like knives due to the 100mph winds from a tropical storm, the soldiers said that guarding the tomb of the Unknown Soldier was THE HIGHEST honor that is afforded to a person serving in the military.
...The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier has been guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year since 1930.
THE SENTINELS OF THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWNS
The Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and in any weather by Tomb Guard sentinels. Sentinels, all volunteers, are considered to be the best of the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard), headquartered at Fort Myer, Va.
After members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry become ceremonially qualified, they are eligible to volunteer for duty as sentinels at the Tomb. If accepted, they are assigned to Company E of The Old Guard. Each soldier must be in superb physical condition, possess an unblemished military record and be between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall, with a proportionate weight and build. An interview and a two-week trial to determine a volunteer's capability to train as a tomb guard is required.
During the trial phase, would-be sentinels memorize seven pages of Arlington National Cemetery history. This information must be recited verbatim in order to earn a "walk." A walk occurs between guard changes. A daytime walk is one-half hour in the summer and one hour in the winter. All night walks are one hour.
If a soldier passes the first training phase, "new-soldier" training begins. New sentinels learn the history of Arlington National Cemetery and the grave locations of nearly 300 veterans. They learn the guard-change ceremony and the manual of arms that takes place during the inspection portion of the Changing of the Guard. Sentinels learn to keep their uniforms and weapons in immaculate condition.
The sentinels will be tested to earn the privilege of wearing the silver Tomb Guard Identification Badge after several months of serving. First, they are tested on their manual of arms, uniform preparation and their walks. Then, the Badge Test is given. The test is 100 randomly selected questions of the 300 items memorized during training on the history of Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknowns. The would-be badge holder must get more than 95 percent correct to succeed. Only 400 Tomb Guard Badges have been awarded since it was created in February 1958.
The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is a temporary award until the badge-holding sentinel has honorably served at the Tomb of the Unknowns for nine months. At that time, the award can be made a permanent badge, which may then be worn for the rest of a military career. The silver badge is an upside-down, laurel-leaf wreath surrounding a depiction of the front face of the Tomb. Peace, Victory and Valor are portrayed as Greek figures. The words "Honor Guard" are shown below the Tomb on the badge.
There are three relief's, each having one relief commander and about six sentinels. The three relief's are divided by height so that those in each guard change ceremony look similar. The sentinels rotate walks every hour in the winter and at night, and every half-hour in the day during the summer.
The Tomb Guard Quarters is staffed using a rotating Kelly system. Each relief has the following schedule: first day on, one day off, second day on, one day off, third day on, four days off. Then, their schedule repeats.
THE CHANGING OF THE GUARD
The guard is changed every hour on the hour Oct. 1 to March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5 to 7 p.m.
An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. Soon the new sentinel leaves the Quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle to signal to the relief commander to start the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony.
The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon, checking each part of the rifle once. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknowns who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, "Pass on your orders." The current sentinel commands, "Post and orders, remain as directed." The newly posted sentinel replies, "Orders acknowledged," and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute.
The Tomb Guard marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process. After the turn, the sentinel executes a sharp "shoulder-arms" movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the Tomb and any possible threat. Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed -- the 21-gun salute.
Duty time when not "walking" is spent in the Tomb Guard Quarters below the Memorial Display Room of the Memorial Amphitheater where they study Cemetery "knowledge," clean their weapons and help the rest of their relief prepare for the Changing of the Guard. The guards also train on their days off.
The Guards of Honor at the Tomb of the Unknowns are highly motivated and are proud to honor all American service members who are "Known But to God."
WHAT IS A VETERAN?
Some veterans bear visible signs
of their service:
a missing limb, a jagged scar, a certain look in the eye.
Others may carry the evidence
inside them: a pin holding
a bone together, a piece of shrapnel in the leg,
or perhaps another sort of inner steel...the soul's
ally forged in the refinery of adversity.
Except in parades, however; the
men and women who
have kept America safe wear no badge or emblem.
You can't tell a vet just by looking. What is a vet?
He is the cop on the beat who
spent six months in Saudi
Arabia sweating two gallons a day, making sure the armored
personnel carriers didn't run out of fuel.
He is the barroom loudmouth,
dumber than five wooden planks,
whose overgrown frat-boy behavior is outweighed a
hundred times in the cosmic scales by four hours of
exquisite bravery near the 38th parallel.
He - or she - is the nurse who
fought against futility
and went to sleep sobbing every night for
two solid years in DaNang.
He is the POW who went away one
person and came back another.
Or didn't come back AT ALL.
He is the Quantico drill
instructor who has never seen combat,
but has saved countless lives by turning slouchy, no-account
rednecks and gang members into Marines...and teaching them to
watch each other's backs.
He is the parade-riding
Legionnaire who pins on his ribbons
and medals with a prosthetic hand.
He is the career Quartermaster
who watches the
ribbons and medals pass him by.
He is the three anonymous heroes
in The Tomb Of The Unknowns,
whose presence at the Arlington National Cemetery must forever
preserve the memory of all the anonymous heroes whose valor
dies unrecognized with them on the battlefield
or in the ocean's sunless deep.
He is the old guy bagging
groceries at the supermarket,
paralyzed now and aggravatingly slow - who helped liberate a
Nazi death camp and who wishes all day long that his wife were
still alive to hold him when the nightmares come.
He is an ordinary and yet an
extraordinary human being,
a person who offered some of his life's most vital years in
the service of his country, and who sacrificed his ambitions
so others would not have to sacrifice theirs.
He is a soldier and a savior and
a sword against the darkness,
and he is nothing more than the finest, greatest testimony on
behalf of the finest, the greatest nation ever known.
So remember, each time you see
someone who has served our country,
just lean over and say: "Thank You". That's all most people need,
and in most cases it will mean more than any medals they could
have been awarded or were awarded. Two little words that mean a lot,
Denis Edward O'Brien
THE FINAL INSPECTION
The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining
Just as brightly as his brass.
"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek
To My church have you been true?"
The soldier squared his shoulders and said:
"No Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns
Can't always be a Saint."
"I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent
Because the world is awfully rough."
"But I never took a penny
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I've worked a lot of overtime
When the bills just got too steep."
"And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears."
"I know I don't deserve a place
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around
Except to calm their fears."
"If you've a place for me here, Lord
It needn't be so grand,
I never expected or had too much
But if you don't, I'll understand."
There was a silence all around the throne
Where the Saints had often trod,
As the soldier waited quietly
For the judgment of his God.
"Step forward now, you soldier
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets
You've done your time in Hell."
by: Sgt. Joshua Helterbran
224th Engineer Battalion
Number Of Visitors since 05/01/2006
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of Evil is for good men to do nothing."
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Date last modified: May 25, 2010