Several thousand D.C. area residents woke up before the sun did Easter Sunday to attend Arlington National CemeteryAca,!a,,cs Easter Sunrise Service.

The sunrise service is a traditional practice throughout the world in many Christian churches, to recognize that when the sun rose three days after JesusAca,!a,,c crucifixion, his tomb was empty.

The first recorded Easter sunrise service took place in 1732 in Saxony (present-day Germany). After an all-night prayer vigil, the unmarried men of the community went to the town graveyard to sing hymns. The tradition soon spread to missionaries throughout the world.

The U.S. Army Band Aca,!A"PershingAca,!a,,cs Own,Aca,!A? led by Col. Thomas Rotondi Jr., commander, played the pre-lude and church call while the more than 3,000 in attendance made their way from the ANC VisitorAca,!a,,cs Center.

As the sky brightened from a dark purple-blue to a lighter shade of blue, the U.S. Army Chorus began warming up.

Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, commanding general, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region and Military District of Washington welcomed the crowd to the Memorial Amphitheater.

He first took time to thank the chaplainsAca,!a,,c corps, saying, Aca,!A"you do magnificent things every day, answering the call for those in the National Capital Region and providing comfort for the Families of our fallen comrades.Aca,!A?

Horst also welcomed Ross Chua, a participant in the Make-A-Wish Foundation, who had always wanted to see the Easter Sunrise Service, and was given a spot on the stage with Horst and the other speakers.

Aca,!A"As we gather this morning, I would ask you join me, in the memory of our Aca,!A| Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines [and] Coast Guardsmen,Aca,!A? Horst said. Aca,!A"Because of them, you and I have this extraordinary opportunity to worship in our own way, in this beautiful place.Aca,!A?

The sun finally became visible as Sgt. 1st Class Colin Eaton sang Aca,!A"We Shall Behold Him,Aca,!A? which took place after the readings. As the sun rose, a gentle breeze started, rustling the 45 American flags that hung between the amphitheaterAca,!a,,cs white marble columns.

Chap. (Rear Adm.) Mark L. Tidd, Chaplain of the Marine Corps delivered the sermon for the service, summarizing what the empty tomb on Easter morning means for all mankind.

After Tidd spoke, Air Force Chap. (Col.) Charlie Stutts, senior Air Force chaplain at ANC delivered the benediction, and the Army Band closed with the Aca,!A"Hallelujah Chorus.Aca,!A?

After a long standing ovation, the Army Band played Aca,!A"America, the BeautifulAca,!A? as the attendees filed out of the amphitheater to spend Easter Sunday with Family and friends.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16