Arlington Local Customs

  • Visitation stone atop a tombstone
    Visitation stone atop a tombstone
    by GentleSpirit
  • Local Customs
    by GentleSpirit
  • Local Customs
    by GentleSpirit

Most Recent Local Customs in Arlington

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    The Sentinel's Creed

    by GentleSpirit Written Jul 14, 2013

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    The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day every day of the year
    regardless of how hot or cold or rainy or stormy it might be

    My dedication to this sacred duty
    Is total and wholehearted-
    In the responsibility bestowed on me
    Never will I falter-
    And with dignity and perseverance
    My standard will remain perfection.
    Through the years of diligence and praise
    And the discomfort of the elements
    I will walk my tour in humble reverence
    The best of my ability.
    It is he who commands the respect I protect
    His bravery that made us so proud.
    Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day,
    Alone in the thoughtful peace of night,
    This soldier in honored Glory rest
    Under my eternal vigilance.

    Particularly meaningful to the Tomb Guards is
    line 6- "my standard will remain perfection"

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    Visitation stone

    by GentleSpirit Updated May 8, 2013

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    Visitation stone atop a tombstone

    I was not familiar with this. I kept seeing a small stone or pebble (some smaller than others) on the top of a gravestone at Arlington. Seeing it enough times, I figured it couldn't possibly be an accident or coincidence.

    As it turns out, it is an old Jewish tradition. It is part of the act of remembrance. It comes from the tradition of placing large stones atop the freshly buried body so that the grave would be left in peace. This was before the days of coffins. Now it is a symbolic gesture, a way of saying "I remember you."

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    For fans of news

    by matcrazy1 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    BY CRYSTAL CITY METRO STATION

    Whenever you need a newspaper in Arlington, don't look for newsstands. I didn't find any. Instead, I found a lot of colorful boxes with various mostly nationwide newspapers inside. The most numerous newspaper vending macines were put by the entrance/exit to Crystal City metro station. My picture was taken around Sunday midday. Believe me, this is very busy place on weekday's rush hours. Other option for news fans is to watch them on TV in local bars/pubs.

    Worldwide warning: the news are always bad! Even in my favourite Fox News!

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    Memorial Day

    by cjg1 Updated Nov 3, 2010

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    During the Memorial Day weekend we observed soldiers adorning each grave with an American Flag. It created a stunning appearance to see rows and rows of graves with flags; it was indeed an amazing sight to see.

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    Be Respectful When Visiting Arlington Cemetery

    by cjg1 Updated Nov 3, 2010

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    When visiting Arlington National Cemetery; remember it is a cemetery. Be respectful and don't try to climb or invade the grave/tomb spaces. Be silent or speak in low tones when in areas of mourning such as the JFK Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Remember this is an active cemetery and somewhere everyday there is a sodier buried here.

    During our last visit several guardsmen had to remind visitors to be silent or not to touch or climb memorials. People just do not respect rules anymore....

    Yes, Arlington is ful of tourists and it's fine to take pictures but do be respectful; these are graves and monuments in a cemetery; not DisneyWorld.

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    Military Funeral in Arlington National Cemetery

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Apr 10, 2009
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    Military funerals are somber and touching events at the cemetery. If you are present when the horse-drawn procession of soldiers marches by, at least stand stand silently to honor the flag and our nation's fallen.

    Despite a popular misconception, Arlington is still a very active cemetery, hosting an average of 27 funerals each day. Those eligible for burial at Arlington include any active duty military member, any military retiree, any honorably discharged veteran with at least 30 percent VA disability when discharged, any highly decorated former member (such as those with the Medal of Honor or Purple Heart), any military member who later held an elected office, families of anyone who meets these criteria, and immediate family of those previously buried here.

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    Murals which are almost good enough to eat

    by b1bob Updated Jul 2, 2006

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    good enough to eat

    Just like in Washington, DC's Adams-Morgan, artsy areas of Arlington often feature murals, often painted by local artists, to add some colour to otherwise barren walls. This one, on the side of Pica Deli on Washington Boulevard near the George Mason University law campus, was almost good enough to eat with the coffee and cinnamon buns. I didn't have time to go in (otherwise this would be a restaurant tip), but the mural was so well done, it was dessert for the eye.

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    Small cultural difference

    by matcrazy1 Updated May 19, 2005

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    THE ONLY FLOWERS AT THE ARLINGTON CEMETERY

    The gift of flowers at a memorial site is a ritual that occurs around the world. Gravesites cemeteries I visited in both Poland and other European countries are often hidden behind flowers. In Poland there are both fresh cut and potted flowers.

    CULTURAL DIFFERENCE
    Thus, I was very surprised not to see any flowers by gravesites at the Arlington National Cemetery except at that one gravesite on my picture. At first, I though that maybe it's forbidden. But not, fresh cut flowers may be placed on graves at any time, whereas flags are not permitted except on Memorial Day weekend. Well, maybe there are few folks visiting the graves of loved ones due to large distance to Arlington, maybe the cemetery staff clean fresh cut flowers daily, but, anyway, it is for sure small cultural difference.

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    Where do they live?

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 21, 2005

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    RESIDENTIAL DISTRICT OF ARLINGTON

    Relatively few Arlingtonians live in huge apartment buildings put in and around Rosslyn. Vast majority live in different houses in residential districts. Those I saw were mostly large.

    Many houses look similar to that one on my picture - nothing unique, I could easily see similar houses in western part of the USA as well, maybe this one is over-average in size.
    But in Arlington the houses are usually packed one by one and have only small yards. The ground had to be expensive there. However I drove through more upclass districts with houses with larger front and backyards and through districts of small one-floor houses, too. Well, diversity is common feature of the USA, not unique to Arlington.

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    Flags and the American law (2/2)

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 10, 2005

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    AMERICAN SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES' MONUMENT

    Continued.

    DO THEY OBEY LAW?
    I was told a few times that Americans put tones of law, sometimes strange or simply silly, well, maybe ununderstable at first, and that have very strong law enforcement and futher the life in the USA is... difficult or boring or something like this. Maybe state legislators put these ridiculous and unenforceable laws on the books only with the intention to make some sort of statement.

    STRANGE LAW
    I already described some "understable" law like that: "In California, animals are banned from mating publicly within 1,500 feet of a tavern, school, or place of worship" etc. on my Del Mar, California page. Well, I heard as well, that the USA has the best law in the world. After some observations I am more to that opinion. OK, don't get me started.

    THEY DON'T ALWAYS OBEY LAW
    In daily life, they are human beings :-). Some of them cross the street at a red light, drive too fast, leave rubbish (those American plastic cups) on a street etc. And surely law is cruel ($1000,00 for littering on a highway in California!) but very efficient in many cases. OK, enough for now.

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    Flags and the American law (1/2)

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 10, 2005

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    BY AMERICAN SPECIAL OPERATIONS FORCES' MONUMENT

    BAN ON FLAGS
    The gift of flowers at a memorial site is a ritual that occurs around the world. The same refers to flags especially at military cemeteries. At the Arlington National Cemetery flags are forbidden except on Memorial Day weekend.

    WHY?
    Maybe they are afraid of "politically incorrect" flags such as the Confederate battle flag which, for some reason, still offends the Yankees.

    CULTURAL DIFFERENCE
    Walking around the cemetery I found only one gravesite with a flag put by it. In Poland, a country of very strong tradition of bringing flags to graves of various heroes and patriots and not that strong tradition to obey law (made by foreign rulers till 1989!) they had to keep an army of policemen at a cemetery day and night to enforce that law, not mention street marches, petitions etc. against that law.

    To be continued in the next tip.

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    See the Old Guard at ceremonies

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 9, 2005

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    THE OLD GUARD MEMBER

    Specially trained members of the Third United States Infantry Regiment called "The Old Guard" guard the Tomb of the Unknowns at the Arlington National Cemetery 24-hours-per-day and 365-days per year. The Old Guard, the US Army's most prestigious ceremonial units, is stationed in Fort Myer which surronds the cemetary from the west and where the Old Guard Museum is placed (more in my Off The Beaten Path tip).

    I had to hurry up not to miss the changing of the guard ceremonies which were conducted every hour on the hour (October 1 to March 31). They took place every thirty minutes from April 1 to September 30. I saw the ceremony and... I would prefer to see a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns which should be more special. But to see that solemn and beautiful ceremony, I saw at TV once, arrangements made well in advance of a visit to the cemetery are suggested (call 202-685-2962 for schedule).

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    Fast help in case of traffic accident

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 5, 2005

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    EMERGENCY AREA BY A FREEWAY

    I took this picture from the top of Sheraton National hotel and I learned something new for me looking at a large space located just by busy freeway with a helicopter pad and designated for emergency vehicles. I never noticed something like that before in the USA and in Europe either. They call it an emergency area. Later on, somewhere during my southern trip, I noticed ambulances in rush-hour traffic on the interstate. There were warning signs on oncoming emergency vehicle traffic or something those lines with marked hours of operation (rush hours). Who says Americans are dumb?

    I would love to see that in my country. Maybe someday. As for now, the professional help for victims of traffic accidents comes often too late in Poland. Tax-payers money is spent for other, "more important", public expenses. Sorry to say, but Poland is on 23rd (of 25) place in mortal victims of traffic accidents in European Union. Could we send some our politicians to the USA them to learn what to spend money for?

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    Strong local community

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 5, 2005

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    GREEN  SPACE  OF  ARLINGTON

    Looking over Arlington from the top of the Sheraton National hotel I already knew about large green area covered by the National Arlington Cemetary to the north but when I looked at most other directions I was very surprised to see huge green areas, too. I expected to see next skyscrapers, never ending lanes of next freeways, huge apartment buldings. Well, there were tall buildings far on a horizon but they already belonged to Fairfax County. At first sight those green space looked like a forest. But enlarge my picture to see highways and houses hidden below the trees.

    STRONG LOCAL COMMUNITY
    I think that the local community has to be very active and strong not to allow to destroy green space off Arlington, so much needed for new freeways, highways, huge office and apartment buildings etc That is not unique to Arlington but the unique is that in Arlington they are, as for now, very effective in protecting their green space. In many US cities, I visited, it worked different. In Arlington they must be stronger than big business companies (which would love to build new offices in this area on my picture, stone throw's from the US capital) and stronger than commuters from neighbouring counties who complain staying in traffic jams on limited number of highways and freeways crossing Arlington County.

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    Take one free!

    by matcrazy1 Updated Feb 5, 2005

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    TAKE ONE FREE!

    These three white boxes, on my piture, are put by the entrance/exit to Crystal City metro station. They contained free advertising leaflets or rather thin books, with real estates and cars offers. It was too late for me, I already hired a car for 30 days and spent a lot. But Urszula had to be interested in a house purchase in lovely neighbourhoods of Arlington as she took one book.


    RANDOM THOUGHTS
    Well, such boxes are not unique to Arlington, I am sure, but despite my 38 days spent in the USA a year before, I noticed them for the first time just in Arlington. It's a very small thing but traveling around the world you may easily notice that there are numerous countries where such kind of advertising is unknown:
    1. countries with no or very weak free market, like my country, Poland under communist rulers till 1989, when free market was an abstraction, crazy fantasy or a dream and any advertising (surely except of the communist party) had to be a loss of money
    2. countries where locals are poor enough to regularly clean such boxes and use the advertising books as a free sorce of paper or something else.
    That's why, I was a little bit proud when I saw similar boxes for the first time in my fast growing country a few years ago.

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