WASHINGTON D.C., DC — A group of students from Washington Junior High School in Rock Island were presented with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity on Monday.
Four students were selected to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia on June 5.
The four students were Liam Muir, Blake York, Amelia Heine, and Eliza Mathews.
According to trip chaperone and Washington Jr. High history teacher Bob Hockenberry, the opportunity was offered through their tour company when they booked. This is the first time that the school has been able to perform this honor.
Hockenberry reports that the kids were a bit nervous, as they received instructions from the sentinel, but performed their duties successfully.
According to the Arlington National Cemetery website:
"Laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has long been a way for individuals and organizations to honor the sacrifices of American service members. Presidents, politicians, public figures and foreign dignitaries have all paid their respects in this way ... The opportunity to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony is also open to the general public, including school groups.
"In addition, each year, millions of people from around the world visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Some visit to honor military service and sacrifice; some to mourn a loved one; and some because of the Tomb’s historical and national significance."
Sixty kids who just completed 8th grade finished the school day on Friday, June 2, and headed out on their weeklong trip, escorted by the school's history and math teachers.
The students are visiting historical sites in Washington D.C., such as the Korean and Vietnam War memorials, the Holocaust Museum and some of the Smithsonian museums.
They will spend a day at a Six Flags amusement park, then head up to New York City. There they will do a dinner cruise around the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, One World Trade Center, and Central Park.