Over the years, Andy Hopper has designed floral arrangements for a variety of celebrations, from weddings to birthday parties. But this week, he designed a floral wreath for a ceremony he’ll never forget.
A first for Hopper, the H-E-B Partner and creative director for the H-E-B Blooms Design Studio had the honor of creating a floral wreath that was laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery during a public wreath ceremony, which are held daily at the site. The beautiful display featured flowers the color of our nation’s flag, including red roses, red and white carnations, and blue delphiniums.
In a solemn ceremony, Hopper, along with members of the Honor Guard, presented the wreath at the serene and reverent sanctuary as a single bugle played Taps. Click here to view a video of the wreath ceremony.
“In life there are things that you will always remember. Those experiences change us as a person,” Hopper said. “Today I had the honor of making and placing the wreath on The Tomb of The Unknown Solider. There are no words that can express the emotion I felt. My tears will lay there for ever honoring those who gave us their all for freedom.”
A well-known florist held a contest for members of the American Institute of Floral Designers, and Hopper, who was in the D.C. area for a conference, won the contest and was chosen to assemble the wreath at the Flower Gallery, a flower shop in Maryland.
Guarded 24 hours a day, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has graves dedicated to unidentified American soldiers who died in battle during World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
The first tomb was dedicated to an unknown soldier on November 11, 1921. The large white marble sarcophagus featured at the site includes three Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor as well as the inscription, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” Immediately to the west of the sarcophagus are three graves, which honor unknown soldiers from World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War.
In 1958, President Eisenhower dedicated the sites for the unknown soldiers from World War II and Korean War. In 1984, President Reagan dedicated the tomb for the Vietnam War campaign. In 1998, the remains from the Vietnam grave were exhumed and identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972, according to the Arlington National Cemetery website. The Vietnam site remains vacant and the crypt’s cover reads, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”
At more than 600 acres, Arlington National Cemetery is a historic burial ground where more than 400,000 fallen soldiers, veterans and Medal of Honor recipients have been laid to rest.