As “America the Beautiful” resonated in the amphitheater, the Mt. Rushmore monument slowly, subtly, emerged like a beacon in the dark skies. A dramatic conclusion to the 20 minute movie describing why each President was chosen for the monument. Eyes fixed on the movie gradually shifted to the light appearing on the mountain.
The audience stood and sang our National Anthem giving pause to reflect on our country’s ideals and freedom. The ranger leading the monument lighting ceremony then asked all current and former military personnel in the audience to join him on stage for the flag lowering. One by one people moved down the aisles filling the stage with about 100 of our military men and women. After the flag lowering, each service member was asked to announce their name and branch of service. All branches were represented. The audience broke into a thunderous applause of appreciation and respect at the conclusion. This, by far, was the best tribute of the evening.