Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Flags In" Ceremony at Arlington Cemetery

Each year, the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) has honored America's fallen heroes by placing American flags before the gravestones and niches of service members buried at both Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldier's and Airmen's Home National Cemetery just prior to Memorial Day weekend.

This tradition, known as "flags in," has been conducted annually since The Old Guard was designated as the Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948. Every available soldier in the 3rd U.S. Infantry participates, placing small American flags one foot in front and centered before each grave marker.

During an approximately three-hour period, the soldiers place flags in front of more than 260,000 gravestones and about 7,300 niches at the cemetery's columbarium. Another 13,500 flags are placed at the Soldier's and Airmen's Cemetery. As part of this yearly memorial activity, Old Guard soldiers remain in the cemetery throughout the weekend, ensuring that a flag remains at each gravestone.

American flags are also placed at the graves of each of the three unknown service men interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns, by the Tomb Sentinels. All flags are removed after Memorial Day before each cemetery is opened to the public.

For a personal account of the "Flags In" ceremony and Memorial Day in Iraq, please read Badgers Forward - it is a beautiful piece.


Sarge Charlie said...

And you know that most Americans do not know what this is all about, if we keep trying maybe we will educate some..........

Marie's Two Cents said...

God bless our fallen heros and those serving today.

You have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend :-)

Always On Watch Two said...

Flag Gazer,
Thank you for stopping by my site to read my Memorial Day posting.


I have family buried at Arlingon--one uncle who served in WWI and one who served in WWII. Both came home, but not really whole.

My uncle who served in WWI was permanently disabled as the result of shrapnel and being gassed; he could never work again, so he became my "grandfather." We were very close. When I was about eight years old, he died from compromised circulation in his wounded leg, complicated by respiratory problems--deteriorations the result of the wounds he suffered on the front lines as an infantryman. But he was the most fervent patriot I've ever known!

The other uncle served at Normandy. He just couldn't speak of what he went through there. He died of a massive coronary at age 39. Again, a patriot.

I am ever grateful for what The Old Guard do at Arlington each Memorial Day. Placing those flags is a solemn duty, and the men take that duty seriously. How do I know? My husband used to be an MP and Fort Meyer.

Would that every American took our fallen heroes so seriously and so reverently!

Donald Douglas said...

That's a real nice post. Have a great Memorial Day!

Burkean Reflections

The WordSmith from Nantucket said...


Thanks go out to your family members for their service and sacrifice. God bless them!

Flag Gazer,

Another excellent post and beautifully moving photos.

Flag Gazer said...

Thank you all for stopping by.

Always on Watch Two - thank you for sharing your story. History is the stories and we must always share them.