Another “First” at Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery - Amphitheater

Arlington National Cemetery – Amphitheater

For those of you who have visited this website often, you know the love and admiration I have for Arlington National Cemetery and since June of 2010 with the new management, things have gotten so much better!

Over the last decade plus, the hours which I’ve walked and worked among  those acres of heroes at rest are countless, but each time it’s a place that I welcome to visit time and time again.

I spent St. Patrick’s Day 2013 in a very unusual and festive way… It was truly an honor to be selected to photograph the change of responsibility and  retirement of  an US Army Airborne Ranger …  at the Amphitheater of Arlington National Cemetery.  When President Woodrow Wilson dedicated it in May of 1920, it became a place where special events happen. These include: Sunrise Service on Easter Sunday, Memorial Day remembrance in May and honoring those who served in November on Veterans’ Day.  It would be later that year in 1920 that the first Unknown Soldier would be interred.

But back to the historic event …  it was a first … a first time that such an event would happen, where the echoes of great events still resonate within the marble structure.  On 17 MAR 2013… new echoes would join them…

Sincere congratulations to CSM Eric L. Fies USA (Ret.) on your retirement and thank you for your over two decades of service to the United States of America.

CSM Eric L. Fies renders a salute at the Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater

CSM Eric L. Fies

CSM Fies joined the US Army in 1990 and went through basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia.   He then tackled the combination of first becoming Airborne qualified and earning the silver wings of a parachutist and then secondly successfully completing the Ranger course to become an “Airborne Ranger” – that’s outstanding!

During his military career, he was deployed several times, attached to several units over time and ultimately earned the rank of Command Sergeant Major.  His retirement and change of responsibility at the ANC Amphitheater also is another milestone for him,  It is the first time such an event was held in this location… another historical mark also for the cemetery!

After the change of  responsibility ceremony within the Amphitheater, where Presidents have addressed those assembled during Memorial Day and Veterans’ Day ceremonies, CSM  Fies then placed a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

CSM Eric Fies places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery

CSM Eric Fies places a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns

With family, many friends and Soldiers of the  his battalion looking on for both events, the day ended with official notifications from the Secretary, Chief of Staff and Sergeant Major of the Army  that 17 MAR 2013 was CSM Fies’ official date of  retirement.

Thank you again CSM Fies for allowing me to be part of one of your career milestones and good luck and much success in your future endeavors!  Please enjoy civilian life… you’ve earned it.


For photographs within Arlington National Cemetery, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, President John F Kennedy’s Grave and other photography by John Michael, you may want to explore the Gallery section of the website.


About John Michael

A professional photographer living in the Washington DC area, John Michael has traveled extensively across the United States. For nearly a decade, he has now focused on the United States military, especially the US Army and photographs the final honors at Arlington National Cemetery. When asked about John Michael, a noted Washington, DC based military historian responded: "He's an athlete - with a natural talent focused in photography and over the years, his experiences have honed his outstanding skills. His photographs evoke a passion and deep emotion." His photography is un matched and provides a vivid experience that expresses the true meaning of the content - the photographs reach out to you and draw you in with a vividness beyond imagination. This immersion into the US military community has sparked a passion that compliments his photographic work. His mission is ongoing of - "Preserving the memories so others will remember..." ™
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