Each year as part of their study of US History, the Cornerstone Christian Academy 8th Grade class visits Washington D.C. Their week is spent touring museums and memorials and being immersed in American History. One of the highlights each year is that CCA is regularly selected to be a part of the Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
The CCA 8th grade students, in preparation for their trip to Washington, each write an essay on the history of Arlington and different aspects that make this cemetery unique. From these student essays, 4 students are selected for the honor of participating in this ceremony. This year the students selected were Alana Courtois, Elijah Ehlis, Lauren Elvington, and Jaden Gearhard.
Lauren Elvington wrote, “Probably the most known reason that Arlington is so sacred is because of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or the Tomb of the Unknowns. On November 11, 1921, the exact date that World War One had ended three years prior, President Harding and other military staff buried a soldier that had died in France. Nobody knew who the soldier was, but he was given full military honors and was buried next to the Memorial Amphitheater. During the rest of the 20th century he was joined by unknown soldiers from World War Two, the Vietnam War and the Korean War.”
Elijah Ehilis wrote,” We’ve honored these fallen soldiers by having (The Tomb) be constantly guarded since 1930 with extreme precision in everything the soldiers do in guarding it. The things these soldiers do to guard this tomb are absolutely incredible. They will guard through sleet, rain, snow, hurricanes, and every other weather. They basically give up their entire lives to guard this tomb. When they take the oath they are not permitted to drink any alcohol, on or off duty, they cannot swear in public, they cannot watch tv or talk to anyone for the first six months of training, and much much more. It is unbelievable the number of things these men and women sacrifice to honor the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”
And for Alana Courtois, being a part of this ceremony was especially meaningful because both of her parents, at their death, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery in recognition of their military service.
This first hand experience of walking the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery and for our students participating in and/or viewing the ceremony make history, service and sacrifice come to life, and in the words of Jaden Gearhard “we remember our duty as American Citizens.”