Watch CBSN Live

"Arlington Ladies" pay tribute to dead veterans

Every current or former U.S. service member laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery gets a special honor from a member of a special group of women, known as "The Arlington Ladies."

As co-anchor Jeff Glor reported on "The Early Show" on Memorial Day, they attend every single burial at the cemetery - around 30 a day on average - to make sure no veteran is laid to rest without a civilian witness - to say, as Glor put it, "to say, on behalf of the military and their country, 'You are not forgotten."'

"The significance of Arlington national cemetery is almost overwhelming," Joayn Bahr, one of the roughly 65 Arlington Ladies, told CBS News. She is an Army representative from the Arlington Ladies.

Photos: Memorial Day 2011

"There are many circumstances," Bahr says, "where family members are unable to come due to health due to distance due to travel and we never want anyone who has given their life or their service to this country to be forgotten."

Arlington is our nation's most hallowed burial and, says Bahr, "When you look around and you see the granite tombstones, you see all of the people who cared about our country enough to defend it to fight for freedom."

Every member of the Arlington Ladies has either served in the military or is related to someone who has.

Each volunteer attends a service at least once a month.

They've been honoring the fallen since 1948.

Bahr has stood vigil at gravesides for nine years. The daughter and niece of military men, and he wife of a retired colonel, she understands the sacrifices made.

"When we come (to Arlington)" she says, "we bring the Army family, and we represent the chief of staff and the Army family to this family to say, 'We haven't forgotten you; what you have done is important, and we know that."'

At the conclusion of each service, Bahr gives a note to the family from the Army chief of staff and his wife. She also gives her own personal letter of appreciation -- private words of thanks, comfort, and understanding.

"When I write to a widow,' Bahr says, "I hope that her memories of happier times will sustain her. When I write a note to a young child, I realize that they are not fully aware of the honor being bestowed upon their parent, but I hope that, in the years to come, they will know exactly what an honor it was and that they, too, will remember happier times and know that their parent loved them."

View CBS News In