ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. - Former Massachusetts Sen. Edward W. Brooke III received a fitting tribute of devotion from members of his commonwealth March 10.
Buried in Arlington National Cemetery's Section 8, Brooke, a World War II veteran and senator from 1967 to 1979, became the first African-American elected to the Senate by popular vote. He was personally remembered by 18 students from the Boston-area's Brooke Charter School cluster and a congregation of several hundred which included family, friends and past staff members and colleagues during day-long services.
Brooke, a District of Columbia native and World War II Army captain, passed away Jan. 3. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2008. On the rainy March afternoon in 2015, students from his namesake schools walked from the cemetery's welcome center to the graveside service near Coast Guard Hill in the southern section of the cemetery.
Six students from each of the three Brooke Charter Schools along with six adult chaperones attended the earlier National Cathedral memorial service and then the ANC burial.
"We were invited by the family to attend the service," said trip chaperone, Brooke School alumnus and current school staff member Natalya Faison. "[The students] were excited and honored to be there. Some of them didn't realize how important he was. They were very attentive and in tune with the [Arlington National Cemetery] service."
Following a military escort to the gravesite by The U.S. Army Band, "Pershing's Own," and the Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), U.S. Army Chap. (Capt.) Ted Randall spoke to the gathering. He reminded the group that no Arlington National Cemetery plot could be purchased and each must be earned and that Brooke earned his spot at Arlington.
"Capt. Edward William Brooke served our nation with honor and distinction during World War II earning the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with three Campaign Stars, the American Service Medal and the World War II Victory Medal," the chaplain told the crowd. "For his lifelong commitment to our country and the cause of freedom, Senator Edward William Brooke received the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Today he receives the final honor of his family and nation as he is laid to rest beside his fellow warriors and patriots. He earned his place on these hallowed grounds."
According to his congressional biography, Brooke attended Washington, D.C., public schools and graduated from Howard University in 1941. He served five years in the European theater of operations during World War II and post-war Europe. He also served as Massachusetts Attorney General before his history-making senatorial election in 1966.