Last Tuesday, I was invited to cover the wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
I’ve lived in Northern VA my whole life and this was the first time that I would have ever been to ANC. As has become the norm lately snow was falling which could have only meant spring in NoVa was here!
After waiting for our escort at the gate, we drove up to the tomb and filed in with the rest of the family members, veterans and other media. I lagged behind just a little bit to snap some of the first series of pictures you see. The snow fall was just to beautiful not to take a moment and capture some images.
The second half of our day took us inside the Women in Military Service for America memorial for the Citizens Service Before Self awards. Three recipients were chosen from a pool of hundreds of nominees across the US. The honorees were Michael Landsberry, a school teacher who lost his life last year when a student entered his school with a gun.
Michael tried to talk the 12-year old down while giving his class the time they needed to get to safety. I remember reading about him when this happened and couldn’t imagine what his family had gone through. Michael’s wife, Sharon, accepted the award on his behalf and it was an honor to meet her.
Connor Stotts received his award after saving five of his friends from drowning after a strong riptide had pulled them to sea. Michael, who was only 17 at the time, was a junior lifeguard and risked his life, even swimming, at one time, with one arm while holding an unconscious friend to keep her arms from slipping from around his neck.
Troy Yocum is an Army veteran who, after witnessing his friends and fellow soldiers suffer the effects of PTSD, embarked on the “Hike for Heroes” in 2009. Troy walked across America, over 7,800 miles, and raised $1.3 million to support military families.
Troy founded Active Heroes in 2011, a program which provides lifetime assistance funds for wounded vets, a fitness team building program, a community program which has repaired over 25 homes for military families, and a healing program which will build a 144-acre military family retreat to help combat the veteran suicide epidemic.
This was an event that I never thought I would partake in, and one that truly has a lasting impact on you as a person. The ceremony at the Tomb of The Unknowns was an experience everyone should be part of at least once in their life, and I can’t believe it took me this long to get out there.
The snowfall seemed to give each image that much more of an impact on me once I got home and started going through them, and being surrounded by so many veterans and current military was amazing. I hope that I can do this again and strongly suggest everyone take a trip to ANC soon.
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