ARLINGTON, Va. — Chaplains and religious affairs specialists from across the National Capital Region gathered May 26 at Chaplains Hill, where they honored the fallen buried in Section 2 of Arlington National Cemetery, by placing flags at their gravesites ahead of the Memorial Day weekend, in a tradition known as 'Flags In.'
Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Thomas L. Solhjem, U.S. Army chief of chaplains, and Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Alan Irizarry, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall senior Catholic chaplain, place the first flag at the headstone of Chaplain (Maj.) Charles Joseph Watters, who served in Vietnam and posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his selfless actions on Nov. 19, 1967.
For over 60 years, the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) has honored America's fallen heroes on the Thursday prior to Memorial Day by placing small American flags in front of more than 250,000 headstones, as well as at the bottom of 7,000 niche rows in the cemetery's Columbarium Courts and Niche Wall. Each flag is inserted into the ground, exactly one boot length from the headstone's base.
“Flags in is a special opportunity for us to gather and acknowledge each one who was interred here at Arlington National Cemetery,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Marlon Brown, the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment chaplain. “To be here at Chaplains Hill on this day for this special event is meaningful because we recognize those who have come before us have made a true difference for our experiences, have ministered to others, families, and Soldiers, and here we are today in their places, but we remember them.”
Army chaplains place flags in front of the headstones and four memorials located on Chaplains Hill in Section 2. The memorials honor the chaplains killed in World War I; Protestant chaplains killed in World Wars I and II; Catholic chaplains killed in World War II, Korea and Vietnam; and Jewish chaplains killed while on active duty.