ARLINGTON, Va. -- Chaplains and religious affairs specialists from across the National Capital Region gathered May 25 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 the time-honored tradition of Flags In.
For 75 years, the 3rd 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 260,000 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.
"It's an honor to be here on this special day," said Chaplain (Maj.) Marlon Brown, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment chaplain, “placing flags in Arlington National Cemetery, especially here on Chaplains Hill, to honor those chaplains and family members and other service members that earned their place on this hill. For me, it's a special honor to serve my fellow Chaplain Corps members in this way, to provide the opportunity and to host today this special event to remember and honor our nation's fallen.”
Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Thomas L. Solhjem, the U.S. Army 25th chief of chaplains placed 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.
“Chaplain Charlie Waters paid the ultimate sacrifice in rendering himself for his fellow Soldiers,” Solhjem said. “His actions during the Vietnam War illustrate the spirit, courage, and sacrifice of all those we honor each Memorial Day.”
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.