ARLINGTON, Va. --
First time visits to Arlington National Cemetery are breathtaking. Row after row of white, marble headstones mark the final resting place of those who served our country. For Airman 1st Class Michael Hester, a ceremonial guardsman with the United States Air Force Honor Guard, his first visit was similarly awe-inspiring.
“For me, this is my first time in Arlington, so when I got here it was super eerie,” Hester said. “I didn’t expect it to be this big, so it was mind-boggling for my first time being here.”
Hester and about 100 other Honor Guard members joined about 1,000 service members from across the National Capital Region to place more than 260,000 flags in front of each headstone ahead of Memorial Day May 27, 2021.
“We’re out here rendering honors for the known and unknown, making sure they’re remembered,” Hester said. “Whether or not their family is able to come visit them, we want to make sure they’re honored for the day.”
Soldiers from The Old Guard have placed flags for Memorial Day each year for more than 50 years. This year, for the first time in 20 years, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen joined in honoring those interred in the cemetery.
Hester has served with the Honor Guard for just seven or so months, and felt it’s important to remember the quote, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”
“I think it’s really important to remember that there are people who have fought for the same thing we’re fighting for again,” Hester said.
Over the course of about four hours the service members placed flags, in honor of those who died for everything we take advantage of today.
The flags remained over the Memorial Day weekend.