Arlington Cemetery provides a moving memorial to fallen heroes and space for quiet contemplation.
What do the men of Band of Brothers’s Easy Company, astronauts, former presidents, Hollywood actors and a jazz great all have in common? They’re all buried at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. Arlington’s esteemed internees include Lee Marvin, Glenn Miller, JFK, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Bobby Kennedy, John Glenn and members of some of military’s most esteemed regiments.
Just outside the boundaries of Washington DC, across the Potomac River, the 624 acre burial ground is where America remembers its heroes. The cemetery was established in 1864, on the grounds of Arlington House, the former home of Confederate General, Robert E. Lee. During the Civil War, once Lee joined the Confederate forces, Union troops seized the property and with the increasing number of fatalities, chose to use the grounds to bury the dead – hoping to make the property unlivable and discouraging the Lee family from ever returning.
Arlington House still sits atop what was formerly known as Mount Washington. In its immediate vicinity are some of Arlington’s most famous residents – the Kennedys. The grave of the 35th President is marked with an eternal flame and a carved border carries some of his most poignant words. His brother, Bobby is buried beneath a simple white cross.
Other greats buried in the hills and gullies of this sprawling site include Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier in World War 2 and President William Taft. What is particularly sobering is the growing number of graves being added weekly. It’s easy to forget that the country is in a constant state of war somewhere around the globe and to see colorful foil balloons and fresh flowers paying tribute to a young dad is enough to bring a little moistness to the eyes.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
One unmissable part of the experience is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This universal practice, offering a place to reflect on the impact of war and somewhere to mourn for those whose sons’ remains were never found is always poignant. The addition of immaculately dressed marines guarding the tomb makes it even more so. Be there for the changing of the guard, but be quiet and sensitive to others.
The Arlington Cemetery is only a fifteen minute walk from the Lincoln Memorial and it rewards you with its beauty, history and stunning views of America’s capital.
Arlington National Cemetery is the burying place for America’s heroes.
Arlington, VA 22211
Arlington Cemetery is within walking distance of the Lincoln memorial. There is also a Metrorail stop five minutes from the front gates.
Open from 8am to 7pm daily. Tours are available. Book here.