Old Guard honors fallen with “Flags-In” tradition

Story by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes

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Soldiers assigned to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), participate in “Flags-In” at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 25, 2017. During “Flags-In” The Old Guard honors America’s fallen heroes by placing an American flag at each gravesite for service members buried in ANC. (U.S. Army photos by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

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Members of 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place American flags at gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 25, 2017.More than 280,000 American flags are placed at each headstone in ANC before Memorial Day. (U.S. Army photos by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

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Members of 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place American flags at gravesites in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 25, 2017.More than 280,000 American flags are placed at each headstone in ANC before Memorial Day. (U.S. Army photos by Staff Sgt. Terrance D. Rhodes)

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. – On a cloudy and rainy day at Arlington National Cemetery, Soldiers from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), honored the nation’s fallen heroes in an Old Guard tradition, known as “Flags-In,” May 25, 2017.

For more than 60 years, Old Guard Soldiers have placed flags at gravesites for service members buried in ANC the week prior to Memorial Day weekend.

Every available Soldier in The Old Guard (TOG) participates, which is not a task but an honor.

“We are here to serve those who came before us, this is one of the highest honors we can give back to our fallen,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Scott Beeson, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt.

It is an honor that dates back to 1864, when ANC was first established. More than 280,000 American flags were placed at each headstone in ANC.

“We are doing this for the families that can’t be here today, and for those that came before us,” said Col. Jason T. Garkey, commander, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt.

The Soldiers had an opportunity to remember love ones that have served their country with honor.

“I have a list of graves that I’m going to visit, that are friends of mine and others that people have asked me to take care of their love ones, this is truly and honor,” added Garkey.

Though there are many first-timers within the ranks, most Soldiers have participated in Flags-In on multiple occasions.

“This is my second year participating in Flags-In,” said Sgt. Lougene Troupe, a cable systems installer, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. “The first time I did this I was anxious and nervous but this time around, I feel more joy and happiness, by simply serving my country.”

In less than four hours, The Old Guard Soldiers placed flags at more than 400,000 gravesites. Though that’s rather quick, this time-honored tradition will never be forgotten.

“Here at Arlington National Cemetery they’re not just Soldiers but America’s heroes,” said 1st Sgt. Jason R. Taylor, Alpha Company, 4th Battalion, 3d U.S. Inf. Regt. “Their sacrifice, will not go unforgotten.”

For more information about Flags-In, visit Arlington National Cemetery’s website at http://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil

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