Friday, May 24, 2013
For more than 40 years, the 3rd Infantry Regiment, also known as the Army's "Old Guard," has placed American flags on each of the 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery ahead of the Memorial Day weekend in a ceremony known as "flags in."
According to History.com, the soldiers place each U.S. flag precisely one foot in front of a grave marker and make sure it is squarely centered on the grave. The entire "flags in" process takes three hours to complete.
Another interesting Arlington fact: the cemetery was the scene of the nation's very first Memorial Day commemoration. History.com reports:
In 1868, General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed May 30 as Decoration Day “for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion.”
The first national commemoration took place at Arlington on May 30, 1868, with General Ulysses S. Grant in attendance and General James Garfield as the featured speaker. Decoration Day was eventually renamed Memorial Day.