The Land that Arlington National Cemetery is located once belonged to the family of General Robert E. Lee. After the Civil War the property was auctioned off and bought by the US government. The Mansion and the two hundred acres surrounding it were designated officially as a military cemetery June 15, 1864, by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.
Over 300,000 people are buried at Arlington Cemetery including some famous names such as JFK, RFK, and Ted Kennedy. There are various memeorials throughout the cemetery such as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, The Challenger Memorial and the Columbia Memorial.
Arlington is a good way to see how so many have served and died for this country. The mood here is somber of course and you will always see veterans and servicemen paying their respects to fallen comrades.
Our last visit to Arlington was a beautiful Spring day. There were many Airforce, Navy, Marine and Army veterans present for the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. As a former Navy man I always find it interesting to see the graves of those who served their country during peace and especially during war times. Several; head stones have multiple war services for the individual such as soldiers serving in both WWII and Korea or Korea and Vietnam.
The Pentagon Memorial is dedicated to the 184 people killed in the Pentagon and on American Airlines Flight 77 in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The memorial grounds cover about two acres and contain 184 benches, one for each victim, arranged in order of the year of birth of each individual. The benches are each suspended over a small pool of water, and each contains one individual victim's name, and if military the rank and branch of service. The benches pointing away from the Pentagon represent those who died inside the building, while the benches facing inward toward the Pentagon are for those who died aboard the aircraft.
Photography is strictly prohibited everywhere on the Pentagon grounds except for inside the Memorial. Keep in mind, this monument is part of the Pentagon, and prohibited items include firearms, fireworks, alcoholic beverages, narcotics and other dangerous substances.
The Metro is the best way to access the Pentagon Memorial. Both the Blue and Yellow lines run to the Pentagon, just a few hundred yards from the memorial.
Parking is available to Pentagon Memorial visitors at the Hayes Street Parking Lot after work hours and on weekends and holidays. Basically you can park there from 5pm – 7am everyday, and and all day on Saturday, Sunday and Holidays. From this lost here is a pedestrian tunnel under I-395, that leads to the Pentagon Memorial via a well-marked route.
The memorial is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Entry to the memorial is free and no passes or tickets are required to gain access. There is also no security checkpoint to gain access to the Memorial.
Inside the Women's Memorial at the entrance to the Arlington National Cemetary os a very moving tribute to the first 1,300 plus men and women in the armed forces who were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Various artists painted portraits of each of the fallen. Similar to the Vietnam Memorial, friends, family and classmates leave letters and trinkets. By seeing the actual faces of these veterans you feel like you know them. The presentation is in a large semi-circle so it appears that it goes on forever with no beginning and no end.
Some of the families are wanting the tribute to be dismantled other want the additional 2,500 fallen soldiers added.
I highly recommend seeing this before it is gone!
There is no entry fee.
Just a note of clarification it would be easy for you to think you are in Washington, DC all the time but the Reagan airport is actually in Arlington, Virginia as is the National cemetary, the Pentagon, Air Force Memorial and a host of other things.
These areas were part of DC until the 1847 retrocession.
I created an seperate Arlington page just to be accurate. It's not really off the beaten path much, just across the river!
While wandering Arlington Cemetary, I noticed on the map the location of Admiral Richard E. Byrd's resting place. Born in 1888, Byrd had a long resume of accomplishments, including an attempt to fly over the North Pole in 1926, an early Trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, and numerous Antarctic expeditions from 1928-1930. It was quite a thing to see his name recorded among the other heros resting there at Arlington. The exact location is:
Plot: Section 2, Grave 4969-1, Map grid WX-32/33
The Arlington National Cemetery is located across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. I drove there by hired car but it's easy reachable by metro as well (or bus run by Tourmobile Tour).
It's more than just a military cemetery. It's a set of numerous tourist attractions to see and visit. I have certainly seen never ending sea of white, almost identical gravesites put in regular rows on perfectly cut green. But apart from that I've seen the highlights of the cemetery including:
1. President John F. Kennedy gravesite
2. Tomb of the Unknows
3.The Arlington House or the Custis-Lee Mansion
4. The Women's Memorial or the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.
Details in my Arlington, Virginia page.
On September 11, 2001 a Boeing 757-200 (American Airlines, flight 77) hijacked by terrorists hit the west wing of the Pentagon. Luckily due to renovations only about 850 instead of 4,500 people worked there that day. 123 people were killed.
The Pentagon building is located in Arlington, Virginia but it's just across the Potomac River from downtown Washington, DC. It's easy to get there by metro.
TO SEE, NOT TO VISIT
The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense, is an attraction to see, not to visit inside, at least for individual visitors. Tours of the Pentagon are available to schools, educational organizations and other select groups (what about VT groups?) by reservation only. Just in case you were allowed to walk its all corridors, take more time: 17.5 miles to walk. In emergency, no worries, it takes only seven minutes to walk between any two points in the building.
More details in my Arlington, Virginia page.
One of the newest addition to Arlington National Cemetery is the Memorial of Space Shuttle Columbia which crashed in 2003 when returning to earth from the outer space. I remember that sad morning when TV news showed the little white dot became a small flame in the blue sky. Next to Columbia you can also see the Memorial of space shuttle Challenger that exploded in 1985 during launching. I'll post the Challenger Memorial photo in the travelogue.
Both space shuttle memorials are located behind the Tomb of the Unknowns across the amphitheater.
Arlington Mansion and 200 acres of ground immediately surrounding it were designated officially as a military cemetery June 15, 1864, by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton.
More than 260,000 people are buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Veterans from all the nation's wars are buried in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through the Persian Gulf War and Somalia. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.
In Section 27, are buried more than 3,800 former slaves, called "Contrabands" during the Civil War. Their headstones are designated with the word "Civilian" or "Citizen."
The Tomb of the Unknowns is one of the more-visited sites at Arlington National Cemetery The Tomb is made from Yule marble quarried in Colorado. It consists of seven pieces, with a total weight of 79 tons. Three unknown servicemen are buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns:
A joint-service casket team holds a U.S. flag outstretched above the casket bearing the remains of the Vietnam Unknown, while President Ronald Reagan places a wreath at the casket's head during entombment ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery.
Unknown Soldier of World War I, interred Nov. 11, 1921. President Harding presided. Unknown Soldier of World War II, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided. Unknown Soldier of the Korean Conflict, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided, Vice President Nixon acted as next of kin. An Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam Conflict, interred May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided. The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, whose family has reinterred him near their home in St. Louis, Mo. It has been determined that the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain empty.) The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded by the U.S. Army 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) began guarding the Tomb April 6, 1948.
"Here rests in honored glory an American Soldier known but to God."
A lot of people do go and tour Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. People stop by and watch the continous changing of guard.
Just across the river, Arlington is home to the Pentagon and the Arlington National Cemetery where true American war heroes are buried. Not only that, but there are ample shopping, dining and nightlife. See my Arlington, VA page for details.
Arlington Military Cemetary is located on the other side of the Potomac River in the hills beside the Pentagon. Thousands of American soldiers from each war the US has been fighting in have their graves in Arlington. From the War of Independance, to the Civil War, the two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and the Gulf War. John F. Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy Onassis are buried in Arlington, too. To the left is a picture of their graves. The Iwo Jima Memorial (see photo) is located close to Arlington Cemetary.