Honoring Anonymous Valor: Scouts lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns
Donning their scout uniforms and flanked by a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, Cole Crumpler and Kyle Johnson meticulously march down stairs that overlook the nation's capital, that stand next to the hallowed grounds where three unknown soldiers are interred in everlasting honor.
A sparse crowd watches with great attention as the trio comes to a precise halt. Crumpler and Johnson extend their arms to grasp the wreath, which another member of the "Old Guard" hands them. Together, they place it before the Tomb of the Unknowns as military personnel salute. They execute a crisp about face and issue the Scout Salute as the bugler sounds "Taps" with hair-raising vibrato.
At its conclusion, the pair completes another about face, again with precision that befits the future officers in the military they aspire to become, and they march back up the stairs. Enraptured onlookers watch them pass -- some take pictures, others stand in reverent silence. All are moved by the profound ceremony they just witnessed.
|Johnson (foreground left), Crumpler (center), and a member of the|
3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment issue their respective salutes at a
wreath laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience," says Johnson, who plans to complete the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program in college en route to a career as an aerospace or materials engineer.
"It was a unique experience as an American, and it reinforced my patriotism and love for America," Crumpler concurs. He too plans to complete ROTC in college, and then plans to join the Army.
Scouts from Boy Scout Troop 56 in Strasburg, Crumpler and Johnson had the opportunity to participate in the ceremony thanks to a contact who is in charge of ceremonies throughout Washington D.C. While several scouts from the troop attended, only Crumpler, a senior, and Johnson, a sophomore -- two of the oldest and highest-ranking scouts in the troop -- actually participated in the wreath laying. Each has a great appreciation for what they experienced.
For Crumpler, Arlington National Cemetery is emblematic of the collective sacrifice men and women of the United States Armed Forces have made to secure the protections Americans enjoy.
"I believe Arlington's size represents all the sacrifices that have been made to protect our freedom," he says, as Johnson nods his head in agreement.
More than 400,000 service members -- casualties from engagements dating back to the Civil War -- are laid to rest at Arlington, which sees more than four million visitors each year.
Crumpler does not believe that number is nearly high enough.
"I believe every American should go to Arlington," he says. "Many of us take for granted our comfortable lives in America, and we often forget the sacrifices that have been made to ensure our quality of life."
And it was to those sacrifices that Crumpler and Johnson paid homage, acknowledging those who made the ultimate sacrifice in order to "secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
Cole Crumpler and Kyle Johnson take part in a wreath laying at Arlington National Cemetery.
Video courtesy of Mrs. Audrey Campbell
-- Benjamin Pontz, LSNews.org Editor-In-Chief