Old Guard Monument Foundation sponsors wreath ceremony at Tomb of the Unknowns

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Members of the Board of Directors and sponsors of The Old Guard Monument Foundation (OGMF) joined 60 friends and families Dec. 11 to present a wreath to the nation’s fallen heroes at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Old Guard Foundation is committed to placing a monument to the 3rd U.S. Army Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) on the grounds of its headquarters at Fort Myer, Va.

The delegation gathered under the Corinthian pillars of the Memorial Amphitheater to watch the traditional changing of the guard.

At precisely 10:15, the sergeant of the guard led the seven wreath presenters down the marble stairway for the presentation of the ceremonial wreath.

Members of the presentation party included: The executive director of The Old Guard Foundation, Col. James F. Laufenburg, USA, Ret.; major contributors Lt. Gen. Charles Dyke, USA, Ret.; Barbara Mungenast, the monument’s sculptor; Pete Murphy, Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA), Ron Nash, InterWest Partners and Paul Watson, representing The Old Guard Association.

Col. Dave Anders, commander of the Old Guard, escorted the group to the apron of the tomb where the wreath was placed to the playing of Taps by an Old Guard bugler.

Those participating in the ceremony found the ceremony an unforgettable experience.

Mungenast, who came to the event from St. Louis, said, "For me, today’s ceremony was an act of solidarity with my son and late husband who served our country in the military, as well as with all others who sacrificed to protect our freedoms."

Watson, from California, had not been back to Arlington since he served in the Old Guard in the 1960s. "This is an emotional day for me and I’m happy that my daughter and son-in-law are with me to share in this solemn observance," he said.

Joining the presenters were current members of the Old Guard, both officers and enlisted. Many expressed enthusiasm for a future monument that will honor the men and women of their regiment, past, present and future.

An exceptional setting is planned for the Old Guard Monument at Fort Myer.

On a spot adjacent to the Summerall Parade Field and Conmy Hall, the sculpture will rest on a plaza designed in a collaboration between Michael Bratti of R. Bratti Associates and Alex Zaras of Zaras and Neudorfer Architects.

At the conclusion of the wreath ceremony, the group attended a reception held in the historic caisson barn on Fort Myer where they were surrounded by draft horses in their stalls and the caissons used to carry coffins of those being buried in the cemetery.

The caissons were built in 1918 to carry 75mm cannons into battle. Today they carry the flag draped remains of men and women who have fought in the nation’s battles or served their country in other ways.

The horses’ handlers – all Old Guard infantrymen specially trained as riders and wranglers – conducted tours of the tack room area, the stables and the museum.

In his remark, Laufenburg thanked those who had brought the monument project to its present point "by their financial contributions, their pro bono donations, and their advice throughout the process.

He said, "Jay Collier, a Texas developer, was one such individual. An original backer of the monument in 2002, he had put together much of the foundation’s administrative structure."

Adding, "Today I am honored to be in the midst of so many who have helped us reach this point. The monument has been accepted by the Army as a gift and the National Capital Planning Commission and the U.S. Fine Arts Commission have approved the site plans."

Laufenburg gave the group a progress report, detailing the near completion of the bronze sculpture that is to be the centerpiece of the monument.

It features three nine-foot high military figures positioned on a circular granite pedestal, representing the Old Guard’s history and mission.

He encouraged participants to become "ambassadors" of the project and bring in other potential supporters.

"Only by this outreach and networking can we reach our monetary goals and begin to break ground for the monument in the near future," he said.

Pete Murphy, representing AUSA, a Regimental Sponsor of The Old Guard Monument, said, "AUSA has supported this project from its early stages. When finished it will be the perfect tribute to The Old Guard, the Army’s oldest and among its proudest units. The spirit of General George Washington, its founder, will find pride in its presence at Fort Myer."

Details concerning the monument project are found at www.theoldguardmonmument.org

The Monument Fund is administered by the Community Foundation of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio, a non-profit foundation under Section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

The foundation’s tax identification number is 25-1407396.

All or a portion of donations may be tax deductible. Consult your tax adviser for more information.