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Rendering Honors

Kate Burgess | Washington, D.C., United States

Organization: Kate Karwan Burgess

Soldier from 1st Battalion, 3d U.S Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), member of the Caisson Platoon and the marching element gather outside the view of the next of kin for a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery that they soon will render honors.

It is a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges, requirements, and the unknown physical and emotional sacrifices of The Old Guard soldiers of 3rd Infantry Division stationed at Arlington National Cemetery. The focus is primarily on the soldiers that render the honors to and inter the fallen into the cemetery. The soldiers stationed at this domestic posting leave with scars and aliments that last a lifetime.

These images will give insight to the repetition, precision, tradition, and stoic demands of their daily missions in the cemetery and the additional duties that make this job so important, difficult, and worthy of our attention.

On assignment to photograph funerals at Arlington National Cemetery, I was struck by the precision and discipline of the soldiers conducting the ceremonies. Through my time as a cadet at West Point and service in the Army, I had an idea to the amount of time and energy required to achieve that level of precision and military bearing, and I knew it was a lot. I was also taken aback to the emotional toll it took on me. I had cried at three of the six funerals I attended that day despite not knowing anyone involved or present. On that particular day the climate was relentlessly cold and unforgiving. I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

If I felt this after one day, what did these soldiers feel after doing it day in and day out? What was the toll on them? I knew there was a story to be told. The more I saw and learned the more I was convinced their story needed to be shared with others. 

I hope through these images the viewer gains admiration and appreciation for the soldiers maintaining these traditions, citizens feel a sense of pride that their country honors those that have sacrificed so much for their way of life, and are reminded of the costs endured by individuals and families to ensure those freedoms.

Kate Karwan Burgess



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