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Sid Yudain, Roll Call Founder, Laid to Rest

Tom Williams/CQ Roll
Lael Yudain, widow of Roll Call founder Sid Yudain, receives an American flag during an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The Army veteran died on Oct. 20.

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. — Before he was Sid Yudain, founder and publisher of Roll Call newspaper, he was TEC 5 Sidney Lawrence Yudain, Detached Enlisted Men’s List, United States Army. The World War II veteran who died on Oct. 20, 2013, was laid to rest at the military’s hallowed ground here on Friday, interred at Columbarium 9, Section N26, Row 3, Niche 2.

“Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return,” said Rabbi Marvin Bash as he let fall a scoop of the cemetery’s soil near Yudain’s final resting place before leading friends and family in the kaddish, the Jewish mourners’ prayer.

Ever the trailblazer, Yudain’s spot started a new section of Columbarium 9. “He’s starting a new row,” Bash noted. When his headstone is installed, it will read, in part, “Founder, Roll Call,” according to his widow, Lael Yudain.

The funeral was part of a long-standing tradition of last rites for U.S. military veterans. Yudain, whose D.E.M.L. unit was stationed in Malibu, Calif., during the war, got his start in the journalism business by launching a base newsletter.

After the war, it was down to Hollywood, where he continued his new career covering movie stars and other entertainers, and finally to Washington, D.C., where he founded Roll Call in 1955, after a stint as a Capitol Hill aide.

“This is going to be tough for me,” Lael Yudain said as she waited at the cemetery’s administrative building before the service began. “When they play ‘Taps’ ...” she said, her voice trailing off.

In the administrative building here, set off from the school field trips and assorted tourists who congregate in the visitors center, the business of laying to rest the country’s veterans proceeds professionally. The family is assigned a guide or cemetery representative who leads the procession of cars to the transfer site and columbarium. The guide has custody of the departed’s remains and gave Yudain one last chauffeured ride through the cemetery grounds before transferring him to the honor guard at the site of the interment ceremony.

The honor guard was busy on Friday. Hundreds of World War II veterans like Yudain die every day. As soon as the honor guard’s 21-gun salute and rendition of “Taps” for Yudain concluded, seven members of the guard folded the flag and presented it to his widow. Before she and the rest of the family stood to walk from the flag site to the interment site, another 21-gun salute sounded from a nearby plot. It was a lonely echo of the honoring of Yudain and a reminder that he was not alone in his service to his country.

The man who would go on to found Roll Call was one of eight siblings. Four Yudain brothers served in the Army in World War II.

Yudain enjoyed a long, prosperous life. His memorial service in December, held at his beloved National Press Club, was a festive affair, with friends and family singing, telling funny stories and praising a man who loved to bring others together. That was his vision for Roll Call and its place in the Capitol Hill community. He wanted everyone to get along and have fun, to remember the things that brought people together.

Friday’s ceremony on the military’s hallowed ground was a more somber affair, as family, friends and the U.S. military bade him a final, long goodbye.

Of all the things that survive a society, gravesites and cemeteries are usually some of the longest standing. Westminster Abbey in London, the Pantheon in Paris, the Street of Tombs in Pompeii, all show this.

In the future, as the United States ages, the monuments to America’s military servants here will continue to tell the stories of the past. TEC 5 Sid Yudain, founder of Roll Call, will take his place among those stories. He was a man who knew how to tell a good story himself.

An earlier version of this story misstated the number of Yudain brothers who served in the Army in World War II. Four Yudain brothers served.

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