What is a Hero? A Hero is someone who has placed the value of others above themselves, truly demonstrating the highest level of humility. A Hero doesn’t self-assign the title, nor do they have to inform others of their status.
Having served 20 years in the US military, it is an honor and privilege to introduce you to some of the Hero’s of Claiborne County Tennessee.
Del McMurray, BSSW, M.Ed.
Retired United States Air Force
Senior Master Sergeant
99th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Superintendent
The Fallen Soldier Battle Cross, Battlefield Cross or Battle Cross is a symbolic replacement of a cross on the battlefield or at the base camp for a soldier who has been killed. Made up of the soldier's rifle with bayonet attached stuck into the ground, helmet on top, dog tags sometimes hanging from the rifle and the boots of the fallen soldier next to it. Its purpose is to show honor and respect for the fallen at the battle site. The practice started during the American Civil War or maybe earlier as a means of identifying the bodies on the battleground before they were removed.
Today, it is an immediate means of showing respect for the fallen among the still living members of the troop. It might be seen in the field or base camp after the battle in Afghanistan or Iraq. Used less today as a means to identify the fallen but more as a private ceremony among those still living as a means to mourn, as attending the funeral is not always possible for soldiers still in the fight.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the most visited gave site at Arlington, or for that matter, in America. Beneath the white marble Tomb sarcophagus lies the body of an unidentified American soldier from World War I. West of the sarcophagus beneath three marble slabs that lie flush with the plaza are crypts for the unidentified remains of an American soldier from World War II and Korea, and the empty crypt that once held the unidentified remains of a serviceman from the Vietnam War.
The selection process of the Unknown Soldiers and the ceremony with which each was interred has been both intricate and moving. Near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a large plaque that details that history.
Source: Paul S. Boyer. "Arlington National Cemetery." The Oxford Companion to United States History. 2001. Encyclopedia.com. 6 May. 2011 http://www.encyclopedia.com.
The Illinois National Guard states that this tradition began in the late 18th century during the Napoleonic wars, when the flag was used to cover dead soldiers carried from the field. This later evolved into the flag-draped casket seen at military funerals.
When the flag is draped over the coffin, the blue field, known as the "union," should be at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased, according to U.S. History.org. However, originally, the blue field was reversed, over the right shoulder, to indicate mourning.
According to the Department of Veteran's Affairs, all active-duty military personnel and veterans are eligible for a flag-draped casket, as is a president of the United States, who serves as commander-in-chief of the military. Some members of Congress may be eligible, as are certain civilians chosen by the president as having served the national defense of the country.
The flag is not buried with the casket. Instead, it is folded 13 times, in traditional military style, and usually given to the closest living relative. The family may keep the flag, or donate it to the cemetery if it has an "avenue of flags." In this case, the cemetery will fly all donated flags on patriotic holidays.
Other Flag Procedures
The flag should never touch the ground while draped on the casket as, according to the flag code, it represents a living country and should be considered a living thing. However, it is allowable for a veteran to be buried with a small flag in the casket or even to be wrapped in the flag, according to the Illinois National Guard.