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NEWS | Sept. 17, 2017

Military Police sergeants pay visit, respect to Arlington National Cemetery

By Sgt. 1st Class Carlos Lazo 200th Military Police Command

ARLINGTON, Va. — They stood in silence around the small monument. Some stared solemnly at the name etched upon the grave marker. Others stared at their phones – an act that was actually encouraged – reading the history of the individual buried before them. All of them, noncommissioned officers with the 200th Military Police Command from Fort Meade, Maryland, stood there for several minutes before walking to the next grave to hear of more heroic acts.

Arlington National Cemetery is full of heroic acts, and learning of heroes in the military police branch is how the 200th MPC conducted their NCO professional development training during their September battle training assembly.

“Arlington National Cemetery is just a reminder to me of all the brave men and women that have sacrificed their lives for our country,” said Sgt. Robert A. Crawford II, with the 200th MP Command. For him, this sacred visit streghtens the NCOs.

“It reinforced the idea of teamwork, that we are all a part of something bigger,” said Crawford. “It helped to reinforce the idea that we need to help each other out more, that we are family, brothers and sisters, working together.”

Together, the NCOs began their trip with a walk around the national cemetery, visiting grave sites of individuals who had served in the military police branch. The group used the national cemetery’s online app to locate specific sites, and to read the heroic acts and awards bestowed upon those individuals. Several of the 200th MP NCOs also spoke at each grave selected.

For Crawford, this visit was a very personal act.

“It was also the first time I have been able to visit my drill sergeant’s grave and pay my respects. It was a very moving experience for me, much more so than my previous visits,” said Crawford.

“I remember soon after his death, I was reading an article where [his] wife was being interviewed. [She] was talking about how her husband would always say, ‘Never leave something unfinished,’ and for a moment, I was taken back. I remembered so vividly him always saying that to us in basic training, and something that I have always taken with me and lived by.”

The readings and visits continued through the morning.

Following a quick lunch at the Fort Myer dining facility nearby, the group of NCOs made their way to Arlington National Cemetery’s most recognizable site; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to witness the Changing of the Guard.

“Watching the Changing of the Guard is always moving,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jill E. Johnson, with the 200th MP Command. “It has been well over a decade since I last observed this solemn tribute in 2003.

“The discipline, professionalism and skill is unwavering and a testament to the individual and the program.”

The NCOs were provided an upfront view of the ceremony by cemetery staff, as well as a private visit to the site’s catacombs, with a detailed briefing on the history of the national cemetery.

“Visiting Arlington for (our professional development) was very creative, and a break from the standard,” said Johnson. “We had an opportunity to see history in person and learn about the Old Guard as well as pay respect to our brothers and sisters in arms across all branches and all ranks whose final resting place is Arlington National Cemetery.”