Friday, June 14, 2013

Arlington National Cemetary, Washington DC

Under the jurisdiction of the US Army, this national cemetery honors those people that have served and sacrificed for our country starting from the Civil War to now. There are more than 285,000 people that have been laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. It is still an active cemetery with 27 to 30 funerals a day being conducted. The big draw for the four million visitors per year is not only to pay their respects, but to also see the graves of President Kennedy and the grave the Tomb of the Unknowns (commonly known as the Tomb of the Unknown Solider) and the changing of the guard ceremony.

Well, we were no different than the masses, after getting our map from the visitor center we headed directly for President Kennedy’s grave. The grave site shown to the left is certainly understated for a president who is still so popular today. The site includes most recently his wife Jacqueline and two decreased children that were quietly interred during its construction. The internal flame makes this memorial quite unique and interesting.  The original flame shown surrounded by the brown Cape Cod granite has been temporarily replaced by the all metal housed flame. Apparently the auto lighting mechanism is being repaired. Also, shown is the bugle used to play 'Tabs' at President Kennedy's funeral

Next we walked to the Tomb of the Unknowns. This tomb has remains of unknown soldiers from WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam wars. This tomb does not contain all the remains of all the unknown soldiers; rather it’s a monument to all the American service members that have died without their remains being identified. This tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 356 days a year in any weather by Tomb Guard sentinels from the elite 3rd U.S. Army Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), headquartered at Fort Myer, Va. During the summer months the sentinel is replaced (for detailed changing of the guard info) with a formal ceremony every 30 minutes. This is a very moving ceremony and is taken very seriously by the Tomb Guards. They are so serious about the honor and respect of the monument that after the ceremony as the crowd was leaving the Guard yelled at the crowd to show respect by being silent.  We also learned that during the most recent hurricane, the Guards were given the option to not guard the tomb and all declined so they could take their watch…wow what a sense of pride and honor they must feel.




On our way back to the visitor center we stopped at several other memorials including the Space Shuttle Columbia Memorial and Joe Louis’ grave. 


Great view's of Washington  DC from the Tomb of the Unknowns

A new grave without a marker

Definitely worth a visit and we spent about two hours at the cemetery. If you have a car, it's pretty easy to drive there and park, rather than the Metro, depending on from where you depart. (For us, it was a half-hour car ride vs. an hour Metro ride.)
Easy and affordable - no matter where you are! 

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