DAR Establishes ‘Forever Garden’ at Local VA |
The celebration of Veterans Day in 2021 also marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery, Va., On November 11, 1921.
At this first ceremony, according to Catherine Gauldin of the Kerrville-area Daughters of the American Revolution chapter, after the end of World War I, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was officially established and built in Arlington, and the procedure and military ceremonies began to honor him forever.
In France and Great Britain, unknown soldiers who died in World War I, the “Great War”, were buried in 1920 after falling in combat. But the US government had not yet done so, and the federal government in Washington was “pushed back” by the American public to do the same.
The following year, Congressman Hamilton Fisch drafted legislation to obtain permission for the Tomb of the Unknown. General Pershing was involved; and the legislation was signed by President Woodrow Wilson.
Gauldin said military officials in France began by exhuming four American soldiers in unmarked coffins, randomly selected from unmarked graves there.
The coffins were arranged on the ground in a short row. And since flowers are scarce in winter, authorities contacted a French rose grower named Ducher who had double-blooming white roses growing in a greenhouse nearby.
History says the Frenchman was also a survivor of World War I who lost family members in the same conflict, Gauldin said.
Ducher provided a wreath of white roses for a sergeant. Younger, American serviceman.
“He wore the crown in a circle around the four coffins; and he told his group that the second from the left “spoke to him”. This coffin, along with the roses, was chosen to be shipped to the United States to be buried in the New Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and this wreath of white roses remained with the coffin, until Arlington’s Tomb ”, Gauldin said.
This burial took place on November 11, 1921.
“One hundred years ago, the body of an unknown soldier lay in a grave prepared for him in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, DC. military men and women who have served and will serve and will pay the ultimate price in ransom for our freedom, ”Gauldin wrote.
“The unknown people buried in the tomb and in the tombs adjacent to the tomb which houses the remains of the hero of the First World War are no less honored, no less remembered. It is the anonymous who bear all the names. These are the dead who will forever be guarded by the men and women on guard, the Guardians of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“England and France had previously held ceremonies in honor of American citizens who died in World War I by helping to protect them. In America it was the first of World War I, ”Gauldin said. “And after that, the United States also established graves of the ‘unknowns’ of WWII, Korea and Vietnam.”
Another historical fact about this site is that a Vietnam War soldier was buried there in 1984, but the remains were later identified by DNA analysis and then removed, leaving this grave empty.
She said there is a documentary posted on YouTube available to the public for more information on the historical background of this site.
The Honor Guard Society, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, was formed about 21 years ago, created by past and present grave guards, to find a way to continue their mission.
“They tirelessly walk the carpet and watch over the bodies of the immortals who gave their lives and identity so that all Americans can remain free,” Gauldin said.
Recent ceremony at VAMC
Gauldin was chairman of the local DAR’s Oct. 23 ceremony to establish a “forever garden” or “garden to never forget” on the grounds of Kerrville VA Medical Center.
Its centerpiece is a new Ducher rose bush, in a protected outdoor area of the VAMC where patients and staff (and visitors when re-authorized) can sit quietly and think about the dead.
Following the founding tradition was not easy, she says.
To obtain a rose of the Ducher variety, she consulted sources in California, France and Texas; and eventually found the Antique Rose Emporium in Brenham, Texas. She received it about a month later, and it was blooming a bit, but she had to take good care of it to keep it healthy until it could be planted in the VA. And by then the flowers were gone, because of the season.
“Normally he has a beautiful double blooming white flower; and it will grow to be about 5 feet tall, ”she said. “VA staff will manage their care from now on. “
Gauldin’s committee members in the DAR are Anita Lachner, Janna Cott and Janis Aterbury, with Lynn Chambers, regent, as advisor. About twenty people attended this dedication of Forever Garden.
Suzanne Faught was a guest speaker. She is the Deputy Representative of VA Voluntary Services at Kerrville VAMC and State President for Memorial Events, DAR.
Gauldin, Faught and other members of the DAR encourage other citizens of the region to establish their own “Eternal Gardens” in honor of all those who protect our freedom. Check with the American Rose Society or other reputable sources on the Rose Ducher.
November 11 “National Salute”
Gauldin and his committee have planned a “National Salvation Ceremony” on November 11, by invitation only, to be held at the Dietert Center in Kerrville from 10 am to 11:30 am, hosted by the Major James Kerr Chapter of the DAR National Society. .
Gauldin said some of the highlights of the program should be special music; introductory information on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; presentation of a specially made wreath of white roses; color presentation by local members of Sons of the American Revolution; a special tribute to the dead, called the “Procession of reverence”; three minutes of silence and the “21 steps” at exactly 11:11 am; guest speaker Dr. Tim Westly on the significance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier; a solo performance of the national anthem; and a volley of three rifles and “Taps” from the Hill Country Honor Guard.
She said three more victims would be announced, honored with white flowers and the bells would ring.
She invited Kerrville city councilor Roman Garcia to read the poem “Flanders’ Fields”; and hopes to ring many church bells in the area at 11:30 am. Gauldin can be contacted at (281) 639-0453 regarding the ringer.
“Listen to this and think of the dead,” she said.