Seniors in Action members place wreath at Tomb of Unknown Soldier VTC

November 03, 1998|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Four members of Carroll County Seniors in Action were invited to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Wednesday morning, an honor usually reserved for the military, officials and dignitaries, and rarely extended to citizens.

Betty Howes, group president, called the ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery "the greatest honor of my life."

"To use a modern word, it was awesome," said Howes. "We were so touched to see the soldiers doing their steps in such precision and to hear 'Taps' playing."

Escorted by an Army officer, the four women walked from the shrine's amphitheater to the tomb. For the brief ceremony, the women stood with their hands over their hearts.

"It was only a few minutes, but I would have waited hours to participate," said Howes, the widow of a World War II veteran, the daughter of a Marine and the great-great-granddaughter of a Civil War soldier. "I was thinking of all of them when I was standing there."

Anna Lister stood beside Howes at the grave and thought of her late son, Robert Lister, a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, who died four years ago. He had visited Arlington with his mother several years ago.

"We stood with our hands on our hearts for the changing of the guard and the wreath laying," said Lister. "It was very moving. The officers called us dignitaries."

When the seniors planned the day trip, the bus tour organizer had said participating in the ceremony was a possibility. They put their request in writing and sent it to the Department of the Army.

Arlington was the first stop for the group of about 40 senior citizens. They also visited the Vietnam, Korean and Lincoln memorials and toured Mount Vernon.

Pub Date: 11/03/98

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