Arlington National Cemetery: A Sacred Resting Place
Arlington National Cemetery, located in Arlington, Virginia, stands as a hallowed ground that serves as the final resting place for those who have served the United States with honor and distinction. Established during the Civil War, this iconic cemetery symbolizes national sacrifice, resilience, and remembrance. Learn more here.
Civil War Origins
Arlington National Cemetery’s history dates back to 1864 when the Union Army confiscated the estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Initially, it was intended to bury Union soldiers. Still, over the years, it expanded to include veterans from every American conflict, encompassing World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, and the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Learn more about Blooms of Elegance: Bon Air Park Rose Garden in Arlington, VA.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one of the most revered sites at Arlington National Cemetery. Guarded 24/7 by the elite soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Old Guard,” the tomb represents the unidentified and missing soldiers from various wars. The Changing of the Guard ceremony is a solemn and precise ritual that attracts visitors worldwide.
John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame
Another poignant feature is the grave of President John F. Kennedy, marked by the Eternal Flame. This enduring flame symbolizes the eternal spirit of President Kennedy and serves as a tribute to his legacy and vision for the nation.
Burial Eligibility and Ceremonies
Strict Eligibility Criteria
Arlington National Cemetery maintains strict eligibility criteria for burial. Active duty service members, veterans, and certain family members are eligible. The cemetery is also the final resting place for notable figures such as Supreme Court justices, astronauts, and Medal of Honor recipients.
The military funeral honors at Arlington are conducted with precision and solemnity. Families of the deceased are presented with the American flag, and a bugler may play “Taps.” These ceremonies underscore the nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by its servicemen and women.
Preservation and Expansion
To accommodate the growing number of eligible individuals, Arlington National Cemetery has expanded over the years. The Millennium Project, initiated in the late 20th century, reclaimed previously unused areas for burials. The ongoing Southern Expansion project aims to extend the cemetery’s lifespan well into the 2050s.
The cemetery has recently adopted sustainable practices to preserve its natural surroundings. From tree-planting initiatives to eco-friendly burials, Arlington National Cemetery is committed to being an environmental steward while honoring the nation’s heroes.
Arlington National Cemetery is not merely a burial ground; it is a living testament to the sacrifices made by the men and women who have served the United States. With its rich history, iconic landmarks, and ongoing commitment to preserving the memory of the fallen, Arlington National Cemetery remains a poignant symbol of honor, duty, and remembrance.