So often in life, a few minutes can make all the difference. This held true last week for the students of Lakewood Middle School on their trip to Washington DC. Had they arrived even 5 minutes later, they would have been turned away by the Honor Guard and would have missed what few witness in their lifetimes.
The ANC tour bus stopped short. The Honor Guard insisted that the group exit the bus and walk the remainder of the way to the Tomb of the Unknowns. A dignitary was at the amphitheater. As the group approached, students noticed the guards stationed at every entrance to Memorial Amphitheater. No one was allowed in. An official gestured for the group to use the side entrance near the tomb and to quickly found a place among the crowd. Silence took hold of the audience.
Before long, a member of the Honor Guard entered bearing a sword at his waist. A full honor wreath laying ceremony was to be conducted and David Hurley, Chief of the Defense Force Australia, was to present the wreath. Four branches of the military marched the steps to the Tomb of the Unknowns. Each branch then proceeded through a series of drills upon arrival. The color guard was presented. The army band entered to play both the Australia national anthem and the national anthem of the United States. David Hurley placed the wreath at the tomb and the audience placed their hands on their hearts as the notes of taps hung in the air.
The experience is one the students, chaperons, and tour leaders won’t soon forget and are fortunate to have witnessed. The full honor wreath laying ceremony will again be conducted on Memorial Day, when the president presents the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
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