Thousands of soldiers from all U.S. branches were buried alone at Arlington National Cemetery every year until a group called “The Arlington Lady” was formed. The group’s mission is to make sure no soldier is every buried alone.
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The Arlington Lady, a representative of the Chief of Staff and the families that served, was established in 1948. The Arlington National Cemetery has more than 30 funerals every day, the ladies ensure that someone is always there to show respect and to honor the fallen.
According to Arlington’s website, the group was implemented after World War II when Air Force Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg would attend funerals at the Arlington Cemetry and noticed that sometimes no one would be there beside the chaplain during the burial.
The Vandenbergs soon after made the decision to ensure members of the Air Force would never be buried alone. It didn’t take long for other branches to embrace the idea. Army Gen. Creighton Adams’ wife, Julia, started the Army’s counterpart in 1973. The Navy joined the cause in 1985 and the Coast Guard came onboard in 2006.
The Marines, on the other hand, had always sent an official representative of the Marine Commandant to the funeral of every fallen Marine.
Margaret Mensch, head of the Army ladies, told NBC News, “It doesn’t matter whether we are burying a four-star general or a private.” Mensch added, “They all deserve to have someone say thank you at their grave.”
The Arlington Ladies bow to the grieving to show respect, hand two notes to the family or chaplain and are then escorted away. The note is a handwritten letter by one of the Arlington Ladies and gives them the appreciation the grieving deserve.
As many of the Arlington Ladies are fellow spouses to veterans and soldiers, they understand what it is like to deal with the loss of someone in battle.
Joyce Johnson lost her husband, Lt. Col. Dennis Johnson in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon. Three years later, she joined the Army Arlington Ladies. “It was a way I felt I could honor my husband,” she told Soldiers Magazine. “I just wanted to help make someone else’s life better so I asked to join the Arlington Ladies. … It’s really an honor to be able to do this.”
These women show the utmost respect to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Nobody should be buried alone, especially a hero of this country.