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Arlington National Cemetery reminds us of service and sacrifice

On this 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, today is the day that we as Americans show our respect and honor all veterans who have given their lives to preserve, protect and defend our freedoms. Memorial Day is a time to truly appreciate and reflect on the sacrifices of war.

The Washington D.C. area is home to a majority of the USA’s top war memorials. No land in America is more sacred than Arlington National Cemetery. Our family had the chance to visit our Nation’s burial grounds during our motorhome journey around the United States. The 150 year old cemetery, across the Potomac River from the nation’s capital, is the final resting place for more than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families.  “Service to country” is the common thread that binds all who are honored and remembered here.

Arlington Cemetary

Did you know that…

  • Arlington is the only national cemetery to hold the remains of those who fought in every war in U.S. History.
  • Americans everywhere are encouraged to pause at 3 p.m. local time on Memorial Day as a National Moment of Remembrance. Take one minute to remember and reflect on the sacrifices made by so many to provide freedom for all.
  • Nearly 4,000 former slaves are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • There are only two U.S. presidents who have been laid to rest here- John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft.
JFK

The eternal flame denotes President Kennedy and wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ gravesites, about halfway up the hill on which Arlington House stands. The grave was placed so that it had a view of the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument, and was aligned with them. (You can see that view in the last photo in this post.)

  • Arlington House, at the top of the hill, is currently a memorial for Robert E. Lee and run by the National Park Service. Junior Ranger booklets are available for children.
  • The partial remains of the seven astronauts who died aboard the Space Shuttler Challenger are buried here as well.
  • Soldiers plant flags in front of every tombstone in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day weekend. The tradition is known as “Flags-In.”
  • Nearly 5,000 unknown soldiers are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days per year by The Old Guard. There is an elaborate ritual to change the guard every 1/2 hour (every hour beginning Oct. 1).

tombofUS

Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful, yet solemn place to visit. If you are taking the kids, remember that there are sections of the cemetery where they will need to be completely silent out of respect.  The cemetery is very large and the main sites are not right next to one another. Wear comfortable shoes and plan to spend a few hours walking along paved roads and sometimes up hills. You may purchase bus tour tickets at the welcome center if you’d rather get around that way. Before your visit get the ANC Explorer App for a self guided tour or to locate gravesides and places of interest.

ArlingtonCem

At Arlington National Cemetery, we Americans are reminded of the service and sacrifice of those who have defended and protected our freedoms. Happy Memorial Day to all of you!

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