Scenic USA - Virginia

Arlington National Cemetery

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Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia

Photos by Ben Prepelka
Tomb of the Unknowns - Photo by Brad Troy

     Virginia's Arlington National Cemetery, JFK Gravesite and Eternal Flame - Arlington National Cemetery - Virginia the most famous cemetery in America, has been a national place of veteran remembrance since 1864. Resentful that General Robert E. Lee joined the Confederacy, Major General Montgomery C. Meigs recommended that the Arlington Estate be converted into a military cemetery. General Lee and wife Mary Anna Randolph Custis lived at the Arlington House until 1861 when Lee took command of the Army of Northern Virginia. The Federal Government took over the property in 1864 for overdue taxes, Eternal Flame and Arlington House - Arlington National Cemetery - Virginia but eventually purchased the property from Lee's son in 1882.
     In the interim, the Arlington House and surrounding 200 acres were designated a military cemetery, interring Civil War dead in several sections. Union Army Private William Henry Christman was the first to be buried, 150 years ago on May 13, 1864. Original Confederate burials used similar headstones as civilian gravesites until a unified effort replaced them with marble markers, similar to the headstones of Union soldiers.
      Robert F Kennedy Gravesite - Arlington National Cemetery - VirginiaToday, Arlington visitors will find the cemetery holds more than 400,000 graves, from the first Civil War dead to the latest casualties from Afghanistan.The numbers of long straight lines of stark white headstones seem to catch first time visitors by surprise. It's unsettling to see these endless Gardens of Stone, the final resting place of so many American soldiers who gave up their lives for their country's freedom and ideology.
     Some of the most frequented gravesites are that of President John F. Kennedy and the Eternal Flame, his brother Bobby Kennedy, where you'll find one of two simple white crosses in the entire cemetery, and one bare hillside where only the graves of Black Jack Pershing and his two grandsons rest. Perhaps Tomb of the Unknowns - Arlington National Cemetery - Virginia the most famous landmark is the Tomb of the Unknowns. Here a white marble sarcophagus sits atop the vaults containing the remains of three unidentified service members from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. The tomb is guarded continuously by the 3rd U.S. Infantry, also known as The Old Guard. Providing escort for the president, The Old Guard is the Army's official ceremonial unit and also provides security for Washington in times of national emergency or civil disturbances.

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