What Heroes Gave
Each donned their uniform to be
Defenders of our liberty
Their mission sure, their spirits bright
Guard freedom’s home, be brave to fight
One final day each faced their call
Each gave their best enduring all
We’ll never know what they went through
But know they loved this country true
Deep down inside we should all feel
What heroes gave, their cost so real
We must stay thankful, grateful of
The gift of freedom through their love
Their loved ones bore the gravest pain
What we can’t know, some now sustain
To God I pray their pain will cease
And each will find long-lasting peace
Remember this from year to year
What heroes gave – shan’t disappear
We’ll never let their special day
Their time for honor slip away
These brave fought for a nation free
If not for them, where would we be?
©2004Roger J. Robicheau
Each year for the past 42 years, the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) has honored America's fallen heroes by placing American flags before the gravestones and niches of service members buried at both Arlington National Cemetery and the U.S. Soldier's and Airmen's Home National Cemetery just prior to Memorial Day weekend.
This tradition, known as "flags in," has been conducted annually since The Old Guard was designated as the Army's official ceremonial unit in 1948. Every available soldier in the 3rd U.S. Infantry participates, placing small American flags one foot in front and centered before each grave marker.
During an approximately three-hour period, the soldiers place flags in front of more than 260,000 gravestones and about 7,300 niches at the cemetery's columbarium. Another 13,500 flags are placed at the Soldier's and Airmen's Cemetery. As part of this yearly memorial activity, Old Guard soldiers remain in the cemetery throughout the weekend, ensuring that a flag remains at each gravestone.
American flags are also placed at the graves of each of the four unknown service men interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns, by the Tomb Sentinels. All flags are removed after Memorial Day before each cemetery is opened to the public.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend!
And please, while you’re toasting the beginning of summer, won’t you also take a moment to remember those who have served our country? Thank you.