TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON

Bagpiper for the Wild Blue Yonder

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 8/9/2022

By Kevin M. Hymel, ANC Contract Historian

On June 17, 2022, as Air Force Col. Charles McGee’s funeral at Arlington National Cemetery came to an end, the sound of bagpipes filled the air. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Adam Tianello, dressed in a unique uniform which included an Air Force tartan kilt, played “Amazing Grace” for the mourners, providing a poignant conclusion to the ceremony.

By the time Tianello, The U.S. Air Force Band’s only bagpiper, blew into his bagpipes to end the McGee funeral, he had already performed at about 1,575 funerals. He only plays for funerals for Air Force colonels and above (per U.S. Air Force regulation). “I will play any tune the family will want to hear,” said Tianello. Yet he does not play for the departed. “I play for the people that are there, to help them with the grieving process.”

WWII Veteran Killed in Burma Buried at ANC

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 8/2/2022

By Kevin M. Hymel, ANC Contract Historian

Brothers Peter and Robert Esmay never knew their uncles Myles and Gardner Esmay, both of whom died in service to their country during World War II. Myles Esmay died fighting with the U.S. Army to capture the town of Myitkyina in Burma on June 7, 1944. Almost a year later, Gardner Esmay died aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Bunker Hill when two suicide kamikaze aircraft struck on May 11, 1945. Their brother Irwin Esmay, who witnessed the attack on the Bunker Hill as a sailor on another ship, survived the war and returned home to father five children, two of whom were Peter and Robert.

Air Force Chaplain Retires After More Than 2,000 Funerals at ANC

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 7/26/2022

By Kevin M. Hymel, ANC Contract Historian

On Monday, July 18, 2022, after conducting more than 2,000 funerals over an eight-year span at Arlington National Cemetery, Chaplain (Col.) John L. Elliott, Jr. performed his last funeral as a uniformed Air Force officer. As a Reserve officer, he supported more funerals than active-duty Air Force chaplains serving a two- or three-year tour.

Elliott has also used his yearly ten months of active duty to conduct funerals, when he was technically attached to the Air Force District of Washington and the Pentagon. With so much experience, the Air Force often gave him a heavy work load. He once performed fifteen funerals in one week.

USS Oklahoma Pharmacist’s Mate Buried at ANC

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 7/22/2022

By: Kevin Hymel, ANC Contract Historian

Cheshire funeral

On November 9, 1941, 40-year-old James Thomas Cheshire, a chief pharmacist’s mate aboard the battleship USS Oklahoma, wrote a last letter to his son, but he did not know it. Less than a month later, the USS Oklahoma capsized after multiple Japanese torpedoes struck her hull, entrapping and killing 429 crewmen, including Cheshire.

Education Program Highlight: African American History at Arlington National Cemetery

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 8/10/2020

The African American History at Arlington National Cemetery education module forms a key part of ANC’s commitment to interpreting the significant legacy of African Americans on the land that now comprises the cemetery. African American history is woven into every inch of this property. Through exploring these stories, our educational materials use ANC as a lens through which students can learn about the central issues of American history.

Renovations for Sections 33 and 60

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 8/7/2020

If you ever notice sections of Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) stripped of their lush green grass, just know that they appear that way for an important reason. “It’s turf renovation,” explained Stephen Van Hoven, who has been ANC’s chief of horticulture for the last nine years. “We do about 30 acres every year.” As a national shrine, and a Level III Arboretum, ANC maintains its grounds to national shrine standard.

Lest We Forget: The Coast Guard War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery (Part 2)

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 8/4/2020

Today, August 4, is the 230th birthday of the United States Coast Guard. In honor of those Coast Guardsmen who gave their lives during World War I, a memorial was erected at Arlington National Cemetery in 1928.

Lest We Forget: The Coast Guard War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 8/3/2020

As part of the United States Coast Guard’s (USCG) 230th birthday celebration, we are highlighting the history of the Coast Guard War Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery with a series of guest blog posts from the USCG. These posts tell the story of the Coast Guard War Memorial and its significant role in honoring and remembering the heroism and ultimate sacrifices made by Coast Guardsmen during the First World War.

Arlington National Cemetery Launches Education Program

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 7/28/2020

Arlington National Cemetery is proud to announce its new Education Program, developed for virtual and in-person learning. Audiences of all ages may now discover the diverse history of the United States through the unique lens of ANC. 

Secretaries of State at ANC: Alexander Haig, Four-Star Diplomat

By TIMOTHY JAMES LAWSON on 7/26/2020

Eight secretaries of state are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. In honor of the State Department’s birthday, today we examine the life and legacy of Alexander Haig (Section 30, Grave 418-LH), a four-star general who served as President Ronald Reagan’s first secretary of state.