The Old Guard Monument dedicated at Fort Myer ceremony

The Old Guard Monument dedicated at Fort Myer ceremony

Monday, June 4, 2018

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) celebrated its 234 years of dedicated service to the nation at two ceremonies held May 1 at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.

Attendees first witnessed an impressive ceremony in Conmy Hall celebrating the 70th anniversary of The Old Guard’s reactivation that included a performance by The United States Army Band, “Pershing’s Own,” and soldiers from the The Old Guard and its Fife and Drum Corps.

Col. Jason Garkey, the 81st regimental commander and the ceremonies’ presiding officer, introduced honored guests Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Ohio.

Both Cotton and Davidson served in The Old Guard and, while speaking at the ceremony, recalled their service in the Army and in The Old Guard.

“When we look at the 70th anniversary and look at the significance, it is not only to be here as a ceremonial unit, but as a response force to defend our seat of government against potential threats,” said Garkey.

The Old Guard, the U.S. Army’s oldest active infantry regiment, was reactivated at the outbreak of the Cold War on April 6, 1948 – when it was seen as an imperative defense force to protect the capital and our national leaders.

It also fulfilled the vision of representing the U.S. Army to the rest of the world, through performances for the president and foreign dignitaries, and ceremonies honoring departed service members in Arlington National Cemetery.

Garkey also noted that The Old Guard fulfilled its role of defending the homeland on 9/11.

“Unfortunately, the attack against the Pentagon resulted in a call to arms, and the regiment answered,” Garkey said.

Adding, “We immediately changed from our ceremonial duties to homeland defense. The Old Guard spent over a month providing security, logistics, and medical support in the efforts of recovering from this violent attack.”

Following the reactivation ceremony, attendees gathered at Summerall Field for the unveiling of the new Old Guard Monument, a project spearheaded by retired Col. James Laufenburg, the 74th regimental commander, who was inspired by what he saw as The Old Guard commander on 9/11.

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), celebrating its 234 years of service to the nation, was memorialized at the larger-than-life bronze monument’s dedication ceremony May 1. (Photo by Luc Dunn, AUSA News)

After his retirement, Laufenburg worked tirelessly with others for almost 15 years to create a monument honoring the regiment’s rich history and continuing service.

“Today I am proud to say to all of those who have given up their individual time to make this a reality – a job well done. Mission complete,” Laufenburg said.

Laufenberg also recognized the Association of the U.S. Army and its George Washington Chapter for their support in bringing this project to fruition.

Barbara Mungenast, a sculptor from St. Louis, considered doing this project when she came to Fort Myer and observed Old Guard soldiers at ceremonies and at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

She then understood the important role of the regiment and began working on this work of art.

“The only guidance I gave Barbara … was to create a piece of art that represents the past, the present and the future of this regiment,” Laufenburg said.

The 12-foot bronze monument depicts three figures that embody The Old Guard – a saluting noncommissioned officer, a kneeling combat infantry soldier, and a fifer from The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps.

The American flag on the monument touches every piece of the memorial – connecting them all together.

“When you look at this monument and think of those years of service each and every one of those contributes to the history of this monument, the pride and heritage we all feel was accurately 
captured,” Garkey said.

“It’s a treasure,” Col. Kimberly Peeples, the joint base commander said, noting that it captures the spirit of the Army.

“Certainly this monument has been long overdue, and we are thrilled to see it come to fruition. More importantly, we are humbled by what it represents,” she added.

“We serve,” Garkey said, “as a visible reminder of service to our nation for those who visit Washington,” he said. “We offer a valuable touch point to remind our citizens of those soldiers serving in harm’s way.”

(Editor’s note: Pentagram Staff Writer Abigail Kelly contributed to the story.)