To commemorate the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, the Freedom Hill chapter of the National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) planted a “Never Forget Garden” on Monday, Nov. 8 on the Vinson Hall Retirement Community campus.
Members of the DAR chapter selected Vinson Hall because the community is home to numerous military officers and their families and government civil servants, who, prior to retirement, served their country through both war and peacetime.
The garden features an inscribed marker that reads: “This garden is a living tribute to all of America’s veterans and their families. In silence and respect, this is a place to remember why millions of Americans have fought and died for our liberty and our freedom. Here we renew our promise to fulfill America’s sacred duty to never forget. Here we renew our pledge to support them with ‘our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.’”
In addition to the marker, DAR contributed $500 worth of landscaping, including chrysanthemums, evergreen hollies and lavender plants. DAR members along with Vinson Hall residents and staff installed the garden under bright blue, albeit somewhat chilly, skies.
Several of the residents who were present expressed delight at having an additional spot of color right outside their apartments. They were also pleased to learn that the garden will be tended by DAR over the months to come.
“The Freedom Hill DAR chapter has a long partnership with Vinson Hall, and were delighted they agreed to the planting of a ‘Never Forget Garden’ on the property. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier marker we dedicated today will forever remind us of our veterans’ sacrifices,” said Freedom Hill chapter regent Linda Abravanel.
“On behalf of the Vinson Hall Residents Association, it was my pleasure to work with Linda in placing the commemoration stone in the Never Forget Garden. The gift to our community was an added celebration to our Veterans Day,” said Vinson Hall resident Paula Yewdall, who worked with DAR members to coordinate the garden’s installation.
During October and November, “Never Forget Gardens” were installed by groups such as DAR to recognize those who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country and its ideals. The DAR members who installed this Never Forget Garden hope that it will be a place to remember, to honor and to teach.
On Oct. 24, 1921, the bodies of four American service members killed in action during World War I, whose identities could not be established, were exhumed from gravesites in France, taken to the city hall in Chalons-en-Champagne and placed in identical caskets. There, U.S. Army Sgt. Edward Younger, who had been highly decorated for valor during the war, selected the second casket from the left by placing a spray of white roses on it, designating the body to be returned to the U.S. for burial. (The other bodies were reinterred in American war cemeteries in Europe.)
The selected body was transported from Europe on the USS Olympia, which had gained fame as the flagship of Commodore George Dewey’s Pacific fleet in the Spanish-American War.
The World War I Unknown then lay in repose at the U.S. Capitol until interment ceremonies, presided over by President Warren G. Harding, took place on Nov. 11, 1921 – the third anniversary of the armistice that ended most fighting in Europe.
Over the years, the bodies of unknown service members from World War II, Korea and Vietnam also were placed in the tomb, although after the identity of the Vietnam War Unknown later was established, his body was disinterred and buried separately.