On day 2 of of Washington D.C. adventures, we started off by going to Arlington National Cemetery. Our first hotel was very close by and it was something we really wanted to see. It is a beautifully maintained place of honor for all the brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifices while protecting our country and our freedoms. Today, approximately 400,000 veterans and their eligible dependents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Service members from every one of America’s major wars, from the Revolutionary War to today’s conflicts, are interred at ANC.
Arlington National Cemetery rests on the property that was once General Lee’s personal family estate (though he never lived there). The land was confiscated by the government due to failure to pay property taxes. On June 15, 1864, the Arlington House property and 200 acres of surrounding land were designated as a military cemetery as Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs wanted to ensure that Lee could not return to the site. The first burial at Arlington National Cemetery was that of Private William Henry Christman of Pennsylvania, who lies in Section 27, Lot 19. In 1882, what was once General Lee’s estate, became Federal property, that is now hallowed ground for all fallen U.S. military, from all divisions and their loved ones (if eligible). Eligibility for in-ground burial at Arlington National Cemetery is the most stringent of all U.S. national cemeteries. However, most veterans who have at least one day of active service (other than for training) and an honorable discharge are eligible for above-ground inurnment.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been guarded, every minute of every day since 1937. For 100 years, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has served as the heart of Arlington National Cemetery. As a sacred memorial site and the grave of three unknown American service members, the Tomb connects visitors with the legacy of the United States armed forces throughout the nation’s history. It stands as a people’s memorial that inspires reflection on service, valor, sacrifice and mourning.
Since November 11, 1921, the Tomb has provided a final resting place for one of America’s unidentified World War I service members, and Unknowns from later wars were added in 1958 and 1984. Tomb Guards are volunteers – part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Old Guard.” It is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving the US since 1784. The Tomb Guard marches exactly 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process. (The number 21 symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed, the 21-gun salute.)
President John F. Kennedy is one of two Presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery. His gravesite, as well as his wife Jackie’s, are guarded with the eternal flame. Because JFK was a World War II veteran, he qualified for a plot at Arlington National Cemetery, but he also deserved a special site befitting his presidential status. A flame is widely accepted as a symbol of eternal life. An eternal flame at a war memorial symbolizes a nation’s perpetual gratitude towards, and remembrance of, its war dead.
This is the Iwo Jima statue, NOT at Arlington, but these brave men were dedicated to preserving our freedoms all the same.
Thank you yo all the brave men and women who served, fought and sacrificed so others may be free. I am eternally grateful for all that you have done and continue to do.