Local memories of the queen's visit to Arlington

·2 min read

Sep. 17—As much of the world will be viewing Queen Elizabeth's Monday funeral, a Hermitage resident was on hand when the queen paid her respects for fallen American veterans.

Serving in the Army from 1956 to 1958, Jim Cardamon spent much of his hitch as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. They're charged with guarding and protecting the monument.

Cardamon wasn't scheduled to serve at the Oct. 17, 1958, ceremony but his commanding officer asked him to be on hand.

"To me that was a pretty high honor," he said.

Every movement of the guards at major ceremonies are painstakingly planned and practiced.

"We knew she was coming in," Cardamon said of the queen. "The honor guard company was heavily involved with her being there."

Cardamon was placed just outside the immediate area of the tomb at a sentry box.

Still, his duties weighed heavily in his mind.

"I was more concerned about not making any mistakes in what I was doing," he said.

The queen's husband — Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh — attended the event and wore his British Navy uniform.

Cardamon recalls the queen having a serious look throughout the event.

As the queen entered the tomb area she was given a traditional 21-gun salute with cannons.

Like other nations hosting a head of state or royalty at similar ceremonies, an America military representative carried the wreath on a stand to place it next to the tomb as the queen followed behind.

"It's probably done to make sure the wreath is secure when it's moved to prevent an accident," Cardamon said.

The queen did not give a speech at the event, which lasted under 20 minutes.

"I didn't feel snubbed," he said. "I was sky high just to be asked to be there."