On a Blustery Day, Sarah Small Laid to Rest

December 5, 2005

At least 500 people crowded the Old Post Chapel at Arlington National Cemetery Friday, December 2, to remember Sarah Small ’02, celebrate her life, and lay her body to rest more than two months after she lost her life in Egypt. A First Lieutenant in the Air Force, she was the first graduate of the Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership to die in the line of duty.

The funeral service included heartfelt remembrances from both of Small’s brothers, Sam and Matt. There was also a beautifully written and delivered — and deeply moving — tribute from her parents, Bill and Gloria Small.

The chapel service was followed by a procession to the gravesite, with mourners walking or driving two miles through the rows of white headstones. The day was blustery; snowflakes and dry leaves swirled in the air. Leading the way was a caisson carrying the flag-draped casket and drawn by five black horses, one riderless. Mary Baldwin’s VWIL Honor Guard marched in the procession.

The ceremony at the gravesite included the folding of the flag and its presentation to the family by Secretary of the Air Force Michael Wynne. An honor guard performed the 21-gun salute. The ceremony concluded with earth and yellow roses being placed on the casket by members of the family. As mourners made their way back to the cemetery entrance, the snow ceased to fall and a cold sun shone.

Small was highly engaged as a student at Mary Baldwin, holding several leadership positions. As a graduate, she volunteered hundreds of hours of her time for charitable causes and enjoyed her job as a public affairs officer in the U.S. Air Force. “She was doing what she loved,” commented more than a few of those attending the service at Arlington National Cemetery.

Among the hundreds of attendants were nearly three dozen VWIL cadets, and several Mary Baldwin faculty and staff including President Pamela Fox. Former VWIL First Captains from around the country and the world were also at the service.