McHugh, Austin lay wreath at Tomb of Unknowns on Army birthday
June 14, 2012
By J.D. Leipold
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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 14, 2012) -- On the morning of the Army's 237th birthday, the air bordered on chilly at Arlington National Cemetery -- a real contrast to the unseasonably high temperatures over the last few weeks.
But the day soon warmed up as crowds of school children in brightly-colored matching t-shirts made their way onto the marble gallery areas in front of the Tomb of the Unknowns to watch the Old Guard sentinel glide perfect steps from one end of his 63-foot walk to the other.
The Soldier's dignified movement commanded respect and silence from the crowd. The only sound he made came from the clicks that emanated from the metal caps on his shoes, each time he changed direction.
The tomb represents service members who have died, but their remains were never identified. It is one of the most sacred places on the hallowed ground here, where more than 250,000 service members have been laid to rest.
It's those quarter-million-plus service members and the unknowns that brought Army Secretary John M. McHugh and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III to Arlington Cemetery to place a wreath at the tomb to commemorate the Army's 237th birthday.
While birthday celebrations are usually loud and filled with laughs and cake -- this event was quiet. Instead, it brought a red and white flower wreath with blue ribbons as a simple, quiet and dignified way to honor the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice to the Army and to the country over the last 237 years.