Karen Morton of O’Fallon, who currently serves as chief executive officer (Worthy Grand Matron) of the Order of the Eastern Star of Illinois, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in a solemn ceremony around sunset Sunday, June 11.
“I was privileged to be able to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom on behalf of all the nearly 15,000 members of our order in Illinois,” Ms. Morton said. “The Order of the Eastern Star counts many veterans among our members, and support of active duty military and veterans has long been a priority for our organization.”
The Order of the Eastern Star is the largest fraternal philanthropic organization in the world that includes both men and women in membership. There are approximately 500,000 OES members worldwide. Each year, OES members raise money to fund causes including veterans’ support, scholarships, youth development, life care homes for the aged, training for religious leaders and heart, cancer and diabetes research. The OES is part of the Masonic family of organizations.
Morton was assisted at the wreath laying by Sam Brooks of Galesburg, Illinois, Worthy Grand Patron of the Order. The two leaders were accompanied by their grand escorts, Steve Hermanson of Lebanon and Sharyn Brooks of Galesburg. On hand to witness the ceremony were nearly 60 members of the Order from across Illinois, who were joining their leaders for a week-long trip to the nation’s capital.
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“The ceremony was very emotional for me,” Morton said. “We have the freedom to exist as an organization because of the sacrifices made by these brave men. It was the honor of a lifetime to be able to pay tribute to them.”
About the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater.
The white marble sarcophagus has a flat-faced form and is relieved at the corners and along the sides by neo-classic pilasters, or columns, set into the surface. Sculpted into the east panel which faces Washington, D.C., are three Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. The six wreaths, three sculpted on each side, represent the six major campaigns of World War I. Inscribed on the back of the Tomb are the words: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God”
The Tomb sarcophagus was placed above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War I. West of the World War I Unknown are the crypts of unknowns from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Those three graves are marked with white marble slabs flush with the plaza.
Source: Arlington National Cemetery