Service and Sacrifice: Our Day at Arlington National Cemetery

Video by Sam Minor

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Commemorating a century of service, the men and women of the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department began with a tribute to all of our veteran members. On August 31, 2013, members and their families gathered for a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to honor all who have served and sacrificed, including some of our own who never returned to quarters. They also visited the graves of past members who have been laid to rest on America’s most hallowed grounds.

The day began with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Chief John Weaver, President James McClelland, and two veteran members: Vice President Dwayne Frost, and Treasurer Charles Miller. A wreath was presented, just as members had done seventy years ago this Labor Day. In 1933, Chief George Finger, founder of National Fireman’s Association, had also led a delegation to honor the Nation’s war heroes as part of the annual convention and Labor Day celebration.

Although the names and faces were different, the honor and respect offered was the same. The group stepped forward in silent tribute bearing a wreath of gratitude for their service. Members lined the steps of the gallery along with family, dignitaries, and other visitors to show their respect. Few words were spoken, our focus remained on the words etched in marble before us:

Here rests in honored glory
an American soldier known but to God

A salute was rendered, followed by the playing of Taps for the soldiers interred at the Tomb and all those who gave their lives in service to their country. It was a privilege to take part in this special ceremony to honor our fallen military brothers and sisters and in tribute to all who have faithfully served their nation.

Following the ceremony, members gathered to visit the graves of six Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department members. A rose was placed on each grave or marker in remembrance of brothers that came before us. Three graves belonged to charter members of the department that fought in the Spanish American War and World War I including: Raymond Payne, Dennis Quill, and George Tudge. Early member William Williamson also fought in the Spanish American War. Members Michael Korn and Julius Vajda, were killed in action in World War II.

The Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department has always honored those who defend our country and take great pride in our veteran members. We honor them for all that they have contributed to our department and for their continued service to the community and to their nation. This year, we pay special tribute to our founding members and recognize the role that veterans played in the shaping of this department. Their courage and sacrifice provided not only for the future of country but for the future of our department. We stand tall 100 years later because of your valor.

More information on our veteran members can be found in our veterans’ section at: www.chvfd.org/veterans

ยป View: CHVFD members’ graves that we visitied at Arlington National Cemetery
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