The Arlington Ladies - Serving Veterans and Their Families
An Arlington Ladies Lady
Angels of Arlington
For more than 35 years, the Arlington Ladies volunteers have represented veterans of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard at every funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.
Currently 195 Arlington Ladies, volunteer time to pay tribute to nation's fallen and serve their grief-stricken families.
The Arlington Ladies are all former or current military spouses, helping families who are attending services or serving in place of families for soldiers who have no one who can attend. They ensure that no soldier is ever buried alone.
A Group of Women
who volunteer to Honor
the Soldiers who have given
their lives for our country
Mission of the Arlington Ladies
What we do is always important and meaningful,
but when you are alone at a funeral there is an added relevance.
You feel an even greater need to be there,
like you're helping to close the circle.
13-year Arlington Ladies Veteran
The founding mission of the Arlington Ladies was to ensure that no soldier is ever buried alone. Their mission has evolved over time to serve the needs of family members, whether they are present at the funeral or not.
If family members are present, an Arlington Lady will deliver a personal note of condolence from the chief of staff's office along with their own note of condolence.
The Arlington Lady follow-up with another hand-written letter six to eight weeks later, as a reminder that they are still available if needed.
Image Source: Arlington Ladies pass milestone marker, pass on tradition. Pentagram Newspaper. September 16, 2005
Arlington Ladies Honor Fallen Soldiers - Video
Formed 60 years ago, the Arlington Ladies attend every funeral at Arlington National Cemetery to ensure that no military service member is ever buried alone.
Ensuring there will always be a presence at Soldier funerals in Arlington National Cemetery.
Entering Arlington Cemetery
History of the Arlington Ladies
The origins of the Arlington Ladies started in 1948 when Air Force Chief of Staff General Hoyt Vandenberg happened upon the funeral of an airman at Arlington. He was very disturbed by the fact that there was not one present at the service except for the chaplain and the Honor Guard members. It bothered Chief of Staff to watch a fellow airman make this final journey alone.
When he recounted the story to his wife, Gladys, and how disturbed he was by the airman being buried alone, she promised to personally attend the Air Force personnel burials.
Gladys Vandenberg founded the Arlington Committee for the Air Force in 1948; this Arlington institution eventually became known as the Arlington Ladies.
The Army Arlington Ladies was founded in 1972 and the Navy in 1985. The Marine Corps does not have a contingent of Arlington Ladies, but a representative of the Commandant is present at every funeral.
There are three branches of the Arlington Ladies for the Air Force, the Army and the Navy, with nearly 200 active members.
Source: Shawn Macomber. May 2005. The Arlington Ladies. The Spectator.
A Special Report on The Arlington Ladies - Video
We're here to pay our respects and support the families of those lost.— Linda Willey, 13-year Arlington Ladies Veteran
Friendgrief: An Absence Called Presence on Amazon
Friendgrief includes a mention of the Arlington Ladies, ensuring that no service person is buried alone.
In Friendgrief, Harold Ivan Smith looks at the role of friends in the grieving process. The book includes vignettes from the lives of well-known friend grievers along with moving narratives of seasoned friendgrievers.
Witnessing the Funeral
What we do is always important and meaningful, but when you are alone at a funeral there is an added relevance. You feel an even greater need to be there, like you're helping to close the circle.— Linda Willey, 13-year Arlington Ladies Veteran
Articles about the Arlington Ladies
- The Angels of Arlington - Guideposts
Since 1948, these volunteers have provided comfort to mourners of soldiers and veterans.
- The Arlington Ladies | The American Spectator
American volunteerism at its most moving. A Memorial Day tribute from our May issue.
- Arlington Ladies: Arlington National Cemetery
The Arlington Ladies stand a silent vigil at funerals attended by dozens of ... Since 1973, the Arlington Ladies have ensured that no Soldier - old or young ...
- Arlington Ladies pass milestone marker, pass on tradition
The Arlington Ladies is a volunteer organization that ensures there will always be a presence at Soldier funerals in Arlington National Cemetery from the Military District of Washington.
- Grim Duty in Section 60
On a winter day when the rows and rows of white headstones were shrouded in a band of low-lying mist at Arlington National Cemetery, Jane Newman took her place in the white-gloved military honor guard from the WashingtonPost.com
- Ladies of Arlington Never Miss Final Salute
During a recent Army funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, a woman escorted by a member of the Army's 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard), stood silently near the gravesite.
- Honoring unsung heroes of Army Families
FLO Notes looks at the Arlington Ladies. There are a number of Arlington Ladies who represent the Army, Navy or Air Force at Arlington National Cemetery funerals.
- Hallowed ground: Arlington Cemetery workers pay their respects ...
Since 1999, she has chaired the Army division of the Arlington Ladies, organizing a crew of 63 volunteers headquartered in a cramped office in the ...
- Association of the United States Army: Army Arlington Ladies to ...
ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 6, 2005 -- The Army Arlington Ladies were selected to receive the Association of the United States Army's Gen. ...
- MIA Sister Knows the Pain of Families of ...
The DefenseLink News Article from 2001 looks at the Arlington Ladies. She had been participating in a burial ceremony with the "Arlington Ladies," a group of volunteers that helps out at services.
Another Arlington Ladies and Her Escort
I am your Arlington lady,
not just now but forever,
and you can always contact me.
It's a bond that is built to last.— Paula McKinley, Chair of the Navy Arlington Ladies
Role of the Arlington Ladies
An Arlington Lady is always present at every burial, internment or Inurnment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington National Cemetery holds as many as 100 funerals a week, Monday through Friday or upwards of 20 funerals a day.
The Arlington Ladies are always accompanied by a military escort, Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard). They wear a distinctive red, white and blue pin that incorporates the Army Chief of Staff's flag.
The Arlington Ladies have a strict Standard Operating Procedure that they follow.
- An Arlington Lady does not cry.
- She dresses in muted, conservative civilian dress.
- She is not a professional mourner.
- She is not a grief counselor.
- She is there as a witness at every Arlington funeral as the personal representative of the chief of staff.
- She is there to shepherd the fallen soldier during his or her final mile.
- She is also there to say "Thank You" to the family.
Image Source: The Ladies of Arlington. Official Government Website.
Delivering a Personal Sympathy Note
Arlington Ladies present hand-written sympathy cards to the next-of-kin of deceased military men and women at the Arlington Funeral.
Finding the Right Words
Becoming an Arlington Lady
Understandably the Arlington Ladies are a very selective volunteer group. This is not a role that many people would want to take on and perform.
In order to become an Arlington Lady, one must be asked to join their ranks by another Arlington Lady.
The Arlington Ladies is open only to military wives or widows. Many are the wives of high-ranking officers and, as military partners, have witnessed decades of military history.
Margaret Mensch, chairperson of the Army's Arlington Ladies perhaps sums up the reasons many participate.
It's an honor to be asked to be a part of these ceremonies that pay tribute to the everyday heroes that make up the armed forces. We're just giving back a little to those who have given us so much.
Arlington Ladies Hand-written Card
Books on Writing Sympathy Cards on Amazon
The tributes come straight from the heart and always includes a hand-written note of condolence.
Honoring and Giving Back to the Arlington Ladies
- Arlington volunteers draped in gratitude
An article about Bob Fink who is making special scarves to recognize the Arlington Ladies from Rochester, NY MPNnow.
- Army Arlington Ladies to Receive Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Medal
An announcement from the Association of the United States Army from 2005 when the Army Arlington Ladies received the Gen. Creighton W. Abrams Medal for their work.
Those moments they share with the families and our servicemen and women are intensely personal.
The Arlington Ladies, as a group, really are committed to keeping those moments and their work sacred.
Army Major Kevin Stroop
Wings of Our Own in the Amazon Spotlight
Wings of Our Own is a collection of stories about those "who also serve."
This 240-page book is full of personal narratives and anecdotes and provides a linkage to the past as well as a taste of the present. These true tales of military life are emotionally charged, educational, inspirational and often humorous.
Bloggers Write about the Arlington Ladies
- Sean Gleeson - The Arlington Ladies
After hearing of this, Mrs. Vandenburg founded a committee of volunteers to attend burials at Arlington. Today, the "Arlington Ladies" attend every service, .
- Chaotic Synaptic Activity: The Arlington Ladies
Thoughts on the Arlington Ladies from Chaotic Synaptic Activity.
- TitusOneNine - Arlington Ladies offer company, condolences
The Rev. Dr. Kendall S. Harmon shares information on the Arlington Ladies in his weblog.
- Op-Ed: Honoring our Fallen, the Arlington Ladies
This Op-Ed written for Digital Journal focuses on one very special group of female volunteers is making sure no one is buried alone.
Arlington National Cemetery on Google Maps
Book on Arlington National Cemetery on Amazon
A News Article on the Arlington Cemetery Workers
Since 1999, Margaret Mensch has chaired the Army division of the Arlington Ladies, organizing a crew of 63 volunteers headquartered in a cramped office in the cemetery's administrative building.
- Hallowed ground: Arlington Cemetery workers pay their respects every day
Farm and Dairy takes a look at the workers behind the scenes at the Arlington National Cemetery, including the Arlington Ladies.
© 2008 Kirsti A. Dyer