ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, May 18, 2013) -- The Army's top enlisted advisor, along with senior enlisted advisors from sister services, took part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, May 18, in honor of Armed Forces Day.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III joined his counterparts from the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, as well as the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for a ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Following the wreath-laying, Chandler and the other enlisted advisors -- Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Cody; Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Micheal P. Barrett; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike D. Stevens; Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard Michael P. Leavitt; and the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia -- listened to the Enduring Freedom Honor Team band from Fredericksburg, Va., play at Arlington's Memorial Amphitheater.

Armed Forces Day honors all service members, past and present, said Master Sgt. Terrence Hayes, public affairs advisor for the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Hayes said this was the first time all the senior enlisted advisors came together at Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath for Armed Forces Day. He said officials hope to hold the event annually.

He said it is a fitting tribute for senior enlisted leaders to take part in such events, because 85 percent of service members are enlisted.

"The enlisted are the ones who are out there in Afghanistan, who were deployed to Iraq, who are deployed across the world right now, so it's definitely important for the senior enlisted advisors to pay their respects and honor those individuals," said Hayes.

He said the day also highlights the military's ties to the community.

"Armed Forces Day is a day for service members to get out in the community and for the community to receive service members," Hayes said. "Then we can gain an understanding of each other -- whether that's through us going out into the community and volunteering, or the community coming to us and participating in events such as this. We are heavily tied to the community."

At the Tomb of the Unknowns, civilian visitors to the cemetery and to the nation's capital watched the wreath laying event as it unfolded.

"It was great to see visitors at Arlington pause from what they are doing to participate in the ceremony," Hayes said.

It was President Harry S. Truman who led the effort to establish a day for citizens to come together and thank the men and women of the armed forces for their service. On August 31, 1949, Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of an Armed Forces Day to replace separate Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force Days. The single-day celebration stemmed from the unification of the separate services under the Department of Defense.

Page last updated Wed June 5th, 2013 at 08:26