For those who have followed me on Facebook, you have seen how from Saturday morning in the frenzy of the snowstorm, I attempted daily to get into Arlington National Cemetery. The mission was to capture some of the beauty of this hallowed place in the snow… ANC closed on Saturday, and when I arrived, the barriers were symbolically across Memorial Drive.
I turned around and decided that Sunday morning was probably a better choice and when I returned on Sunday, I found the roadway of Memorial Drive completely clear thanks to the efforts of the National Park Service. Alas, the gates of ANC were closed and locked …
The sun shone brightly and after capturing what photos I could from outside the gates, I spent the rest of the day downtown Washington DC. Again, I encountered closings at the main monuments, however there were many interesting opportunities since the snow still covered many of the memorials – especially the Korean War memorial. The Gallery will have an album dedicated to those “Sunday photographs”
On Monday, I once again returned to ANC only to find that the cemetery was only open to those attending final honors ceremonies. Understanding the challenges of dealing with the snow and conducting 20+ burials I acquiesced, but getting frustrated, I once again headed home to continue the editing of photos and designing new products (have you seen the new mug from the Capital 4th with the Presidential Salute Battery? That photograph was published! So it’s special!)
On Tuesday, the prospects seemed much better, though the photographic impact of the snow was quickly changing as time went on. I gained entrance to Arlington National Cemetery and headed to some special places. Section 64 where CPT Dacey is at rest was still a sight to be seen as the snow blanketed those who have served
The sections that the volunteers from “Wreaths Across America” had placed wreaths were still totally covered with nary a wreath visible. So it was off to await the Presidential Salute Battery and capture their mission. The Soldiers arrived and painstakingly arranged the 3 vintage WW II M5 – 3″ anti-tank GUNS into position having to deal with the intruding snowbanks left from the 28 hours of snow that blanketed the Washington DC area. Once they got the GUNS in exact position what seemed like moving only inches to assure perfect alignment, they headed for the “Squad Box” which was filled with cleaning materials and proceeded to spend many minutes wiping down these antique artillery pieces of all the dust, dirt and mud that had been picked up on their way from Fort Myer to the location in the cemetery. Minutes later the black-painted GUNS sparkled in the sunlight and the tires on the chassis gleamed from the hard work of the Soldiers.
A couple of men, who had driven down from Baltimore to visit with their dad at rest in the cemetery, had made the wrong turn and joined to watch and witness a very rare sight in honoring our military veterans. They learned the difference between the “Three Volley Salute” that a firing party executes during every military final honors and a “21 GUN Salute” that is only given to the President or visiting head-of-state (e.g. The Pope, or Queen of England)
Later, I went to Section 60 to capture photos of a few of the wreath adorned graves and encountered a US Navy Honor Guard preparing for the next final honors of the day - some 20+ take place at Arlington National Cemetery on any given weekday. The snow covered grounds not stopping these ceremonies to honor those veterans who have given so Americans and the rest of the Free World can enjoy Freedom.
… and I can say -
“Preserving the memories so others will remember…”GHTime Code(s): bfcb9 669d0
Tags: 21 Gun Salute, 3d Infantry Regiment, Arlington National Cemetery, Escort to the President, Fort Myer, Guns Platoon, military honors, Presidential Salute Battery, The Old Guard, US Army, US Navy, Washington DC