Honoring Arlington National Cemetery and Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Dawn Johnson opened the November 7 Meeting with an Inspiration about the message of Arlington National Cemetery:
“The men and women laid to rest here have laid the foundation for the next generation and the generations after that – they have given us the power and ability to accomplish what needs to be accomplished” – quoted from Staff Sergeant Johnathan Goodrich, part of the old guard at Arlington and Veteran of two tours in Iraq.
Dawn continued: “Arlington National Cemetery is representative of every part of society, reflecting individuals from sometimes very different backgrounds yet sharing one common bond, to protect and serve…A common bond that has been established for us to carry forward.”
Downs Herald then led us in singing the third and fourth verses of America the Beautiful, verses that honor our soldiers.
President Greg thanked the Usual Suspects and announced birthdays.
On behalf of the Rotaractors, Bev Seiford invited us to the Charter Dinner. It will be Tuesday, November 13 at Cottage Inn, 7:30pm. It is a wonderful chance to meet interesting young people who will be leaders of tomorrow.
Rotary Tutors are in even greater demand. Jim Egerdahl reports that eight additional Angell School teachers are asking for tutors. This is a happy experience that takes only about an hour and really helps a child. Times and days are arranged between tutor and teacher. Contact Jim to become part of this sweet experience: Jim.Egerdahl@gmx.com or 734‐612‐9887.
Returning Member Nareen Bhatia was reintroduced by Jim Cook with Past President Nishta standing by. Nareen has worked all over the world building power plants for Bechtel. His is likely the only engineer who has built a plant on every continent but one, which, as Jim noted, should be forgiven because there is little demand for power in Antarctica.
President Greg introduced Guests and Visiting Rotarians. Among the Visiting Veterans was Deb Bolino, Dave Williams’ daughter, and Deb’s father-in-law Gus. He is a Navy Veteran.
Stories of Service was again a stirring success. Karen Kerry will report on the program next week.
Happy Hour will be on the East side of town for a change. Carson’s is the spot, 2000 Commonwealth Blvd, intersecting Plymouth Road east of Green Road. President Greg will be reserving our space starting around 2:00pm but the rest of us are not bidden to come until 5:00pm.
Assistant District Governor Ann Nauts presented the Club with past RI President Ina Riesely’s Citation. The Citation is given for achieving RI’s Humanitarian goals. Past President John Ackenhusen accepted on behalf of the Club. Interact also received the Citation.
Notes from the Program
Past President Elaine Didier, Director of the Gerald Ford Presidential Library and Museum, told us a bit about the work and upcoming events at the Library. She pointed out that although the federal government pays for the facility, upkeep and staffing of the Grand Rapaids Library and Museum, the outreach programs are funded by private donations, largely from the Ford Foundation. She then introduced our Speaker, Thomas Tudor. Mr. Tudor travels the world talking about Arlington National Cemetery. In addition he has been President of his Colorado Springs Rotary five times!
Thomas became a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at age 20, serving from February 1969 through May, 1970. He quickly became Commander of the Relief. He punctuated his speech with snapping to attention, showing the positions for holding rifles, and barking out the commands. He paced the 21 steps at cadence to show us the march and the turn. He had to prepare and audition for the honor. The guard has to remain completely stonefaced throughout the hour, regardless of the foolish things visitors may to, including a bumblebee that visited his nose and a baby squirrel who visited his lower leg.
Mr. Tudor recounted the history of the Tomb and the selection of the bodies to be interred there. He passed around his Tomb Guard Medal – a precious reminder of his service – among us. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American serviceman from World War I in the plaza of the Memorial Amphitheater. On November 11, 1921, the unknown soldier brought back from France was interred over six inches of French soil. The superstructure of the Tomb was completed in December 1931.
Mr. Tudor spoke at length about the history of Arlington National Cemetery, remarking that the Civil War is not ancient history. Only three generations ago our grandfathers fought or lived through this bitter conflict. There are 300,000 graves in Arlington’s 624 acres. He urged us to make Memorial Day an event honoring and thanking our country men and women who sacrifice much and accept great risk to keep us safe.