A Visit to Arlington National Cemetery

 

July 22, 2009
     An out-of-state friend and I were able to get together the other day when she was in the area. We decided to visit Arlington National Cemetery. Teresa and I met each other through the "Brats network" in the late 90's and this was our first meeting in person.  We had a great time together, made memories, and we paid our respects to those who have sacrificed so much for our country.
 
 
 
After we arrived we decided to start off by taking the bus tour to give ourselves an overview of the cemetery.
 
There were three stops on the tour - The Eternal Flame and the Kennedys' burial site, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the Changing of the Guard and the Memorial Ampitheater, and Arlington House.
 
We stayed as long as we wanted to at each place, taking our time and leaving flowers we had brought with us here and there.
 
The grounds are beautiful and the cemetery is steeped in history.  As you can see in the picture below part of the grounds are rolling hills, with tombstones as far you can see. There are over 300,000 graves at Arlington.
One of the first memorials we saw from the bus was the Women's Memorial.
The tour bus climbed the hill and stopped at the Eternal Flame and the Kennedy Family's burial site.
 
There is a granite wall that is a semi-circle in front of the Kennedys' burial site with quotes from President Kennedy chisled into it. It overlooks Veterans from past wars.
 
Above it sits the Arlington House, home of Robert E. Lee.
 
The flags at Arlington National Cemetery are always kept at halfmast.
 
Around the curve from the Eternal Flame is Bobby Kennedy's burial site, a simple white cross with a  memorial stone flush to the ground.
We headed back down the walkway to wait for the tour bus.
 
The next stop is the
Memorial Ampitheater
and the
Tomb of the Unknowns. 
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As the bus drove on to the next site, the tour guide pointed out one item of interest after another to us.
 
If you click on the picture above, you can see a larger version of it. It gives you an idea of what is is like there.
I wasn't able to take a good picture of the Arlington Memorial Ampitheater. It is huge!
 
 
 
 
 
 
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You just have to see the
Changing of the Guard in person... 
words do not do the ceremony justice.
 
 
We visited the Memorials in front of the Amphitheater and left flowers on some graves, then caught the bus to go on to the Arlington House.
The Arlington House is currently being remodeled.  The grave sites surrounding it  are very old and the tombstones are quite different from the ones we usually think about when we think of Arlington.
 
The one below is the Civil War Unknowns monument.
Over 2,000 Soldiers, believed to be both Union and Confederate, are buried here.
 
 
And then we headed over to Section 60 to pay our respects.
 
 
After I returned home I wrote this:
 
Pictures, videos, songs, poems, speaking with someone who has been to Arlington - not one of those things does Arlington justice. One has to experience it to understand it fully.
 
Teresa and I were both awestruck. And extremely humbled. We were there about 5 hours and could have easily spent a whole day and still not have seen everything we would have liked to have seen. One could wander around there all day long... the sacrifices... the history...
 
Sorta kinda speechless right now. Contemplative is the word, I guess. After yesterday I am wondering if I am going to go to my grave feeling like I did enough to preserve my grandchildrens' freedoms.... and right now the honest answer would be no...
 
Arlington National Cemetery ~ Hallowed Ground ~ Cherish your freedoms...
The old Memorial Amphitheater.
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The Honor Guard coming in to replace the previous one is inspected up and down... as is his rifle... with a white glove. There is a path worn in the carpet where they walk. Every motion the Honor Guards make are intentional, somber, and respectful.
Watching the ceremony from the balcony.
We saw special remembrances left  on some gravestones and we placed flowers at the foot of some -- Army, Navy, Marines,
Air Force, and Coast Guard.
Enlisted and Officers, side by side. 

There are quite a few headstones that are replicas of the Washington Monument.  The cemetery overlooks D.C and we could see the Washington Monument off in the distance.

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