The gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery are marked by U.S. flags each Memorial Day.
|Year established||June 28, 1864|
|Location||Arlington County, Virginia|
|Owned by||United States Department of the Army|
|Size||624 acres (253 ha)|
|Number of graves||400,000|
|Find a Grave||Findagrave|
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna (Custis) Lee, a great grand-daughter of Martha Washington. The cemetery is situated directly across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. It is served by the Arlington Cemetery station on the Blue Line of the Washington Metro system.
In an area of 624 acres (253 ha), veterans and military casualties from each of the nation's wars are interred in the cemetery, ranging from the American Civil War through to the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.
Arlington National Cemetery and United States Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery are administered by the Department of the Army. The other national cemeteries are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs or by the National Park Service. Arlington House (Custis-Lee Mansion) and its grounds are administered by the National Park Service as a memorial to Lee.
George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington, acquired the land that now is Arlington National Cemetery in 1802, and began construction of Arlington House. The estate passed to Custis' and his wife's (Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis) only surviving adult child Mary Anna Custis Lee[not in citation given] who was married to Robert E. Lee, a West Point graduate and United States Army officer. When Fort Sumter was forced to surrender at the beginning of the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln offered Lee command of the federal army. Lee demurred, waiting to see if his native Virginia would decide to secede.
When Virginia announced its decision, Lee resigned his commission and took command of the armed forces of the Commonwealth of Virginia, later becoming commander of the Army of Northern Virginia. He quickly established himself as an able commander, defeating a series of Union generals, until his final defeat and surrender at the McLean House. Because of this decision and subsequent performance, Lee was regarded as disloyal by most Union officers. The decision was made to appropriate a portion of Arlington as a graveyard primarily for Union dead.
American military cemeteries developed from the duty of commanders on the frontier and in battle to care for their casualties. When Civil War casualties overflowed hospitals and burial grounds near Washington, D.C., Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Meigs proposed in 1864 that 200 acres (81 ha) of the Robert E. Lee family property at Arlington be confiscated for a cemetery.
The government acquired Arlington at tax sale in 1864 for $26,800, equal to $398,237 today. Mrs. Lee had not appeared in person, but rather had sent an agent, attempting to timely pay the $92.07 in property taxes (equal to $1,368.12 today) assessed the estate. The government turned away her agent, refusing to accept the tendered payment. In 1874, Custis Lee, heir under his grandfather's will passing the estate in trust to his mother, sued the United States claiming ownership of Arlington. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Lee's favor in United States v. Lee, deciding that Arlington had been confiscated without due process, Congress returned the estate to him. The next year, Custis Lee sold it back to the government for $150,000 (equal to $3,174,545 today) at a signing ceremony with Secretary of War Robert Todd Lincoln.
Military burials were previously held at the United States Soldiers' National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., but it was quickly filling. "We pray for those who lost their lives," Meigs wrote, "The grounds about the mansion are admirably adapted to such a use." Burials had, in fact, begun at Arlington before the ink was even blotted on Meigs's proposal.
The southern portion of the land now occupied by the cemetery was used during and after the Civil War as a settlement for freed slaves. More than 1,100 freed slaves were given land at Freedman's Village by the government, where they farmed and lived during and after the Civil War. They were evicted in 1888 when the estate was repurchased by the government and dedicated as a military installation.
Arlington National Cemetery is divided into 70 sections, with some sections in the southeast part of the cemetery reserved for future expansion. Section 60, in the southeast part of the cemetery, is the burial ground for military personnel killed in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. In 2005, Arlington National Cemetery acquired 12 acres (4.9 ha) of additional land from the National Park Service, along with 17 acres (6.9 ha) from the Department of Defense that was part of Fort Myer and 44 acres (18 ha) that is the site of the Navy Annex.
Section 21, also known as the Nurses Section, is the area of Arlington National Cemetery where many nurses are buried and is the site of the Nurses Memorial. Another section—Chaplains Hill—includes monuments to Jewish, Protestant, and Roman Catholic military chaplains. In 1901, Confederate soldiers buried at the Soldiers' Home and various locations within Arlington were reinterred in a Confederate section that was authorized by Congress in 1900. On June 4, 1914, the United Daughters of the Confederacy dedicated a monument designed by Moses Ezekiel. Upon his death in 1917, Ezekiel was buried at the base of the monument as he was a veteran of the Confederate army. All Confederate headstones in this section are peaked rather than rounded. More than 3,800 former slaves, called "Contrabands" during the Civil War, are buried in Section 27. Their headstones are designated with the word "Civilian" or "Citizen".
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs oversees the National Cemetery Administration's orders for placement of inscriptions and faith emblems at no charge to the estate of the deceased, submitted with information provided by the next of kin that is placed on upright marble headstones or columbarium niche covers. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently offers 39 authorized faith emblems for placement on markers to represent the deceased's faith. This number has grown in recent years due to legal challenges to policy.
Prior to 2007, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) did not allow the use of the pentacle as an "emblem of belief" on tombstones in military cemeteries. This policy was changed following an out-of-court settlement on 23 April following a series of lawsuits against the VA. See Patrick Stewart.
Between 1947 and 2001, privately-purchased markers were permitted in the cemetery. The sections in which the cemetery permitted such markers are nearly filled and the cemetery generally does not allow new burials in these sections. Nevertheless, the older sections of the cemetery have a wide variety of private markers placed prior to 2001, including an artillery piece.
The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery is also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It stands on top of a hill overlooking Washington, D.C.
One of the more popular sites at the Cemetery, the tomb is made from Yule marble quarried in Colorado. It consists of seven pieces, with a total weight of 79 short tons (72 metric tons). The tomb was completed and opened to the public April 9, 1932, at a cost of $48,000.
It was initially named the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier." Other unknown servicemen were later entombed there, and it became known as the "Tomb of the Unknowns", though it has never been officially named. The soldiers entombed there are:
The Tomb of the Unknowns has been perpetually guarded since July 2, 1937, by the U.S. Army. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") began guarding the Tomb April 6, 1948.
The Tomb of the Unknowns is part of the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater. The Memorial Amphitheater has hosted state funerals and Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies. Ceremonies are also held for Easter. About 5,000 people attend these holiday ceremonies each year. The structure is mostly built of Imperial Danby marble from Vermont. The Memorial Display room, between the amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknowns, uses Botticino stone, imported from Italy. The amphitheater was the result of a campaign by Ivory Kimball to construct a place to honor America's servicemen/women. Congress authorized the structure March 4, 1913. Woodrow Wilson laid the cornerstone for the building on October 15, 1915. The cornerstone contained 15 items including a Bible and a copy of the Constitution.
Before the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater was completed in 1921, important ceremonies were held at what is now known as the "Old Amphitheater." This structure sits where Robert E. Lee once had his gardens. The amphitheater was built in 1868 under the direction of General John A. Logan. Gen. James A. Garfield was the featured speaker at the Decoration Day dedication ceremony, May 30, 1868. The amphitheater has an encircling colonnade with a latticed roof that once supported a web of vines. The amphitheater has a marble dais, known as "the rostrum", which is inscribed with the U.S. national motto found on the Great Seal of the United States, E pluribus unum ("Out of many, one"). The amphitheater seats 1,500 people and has hosted speakers such as William Jennings Bryan.
Due to the ever-decreasing space at the cemetery, and that the nature of memorials is to take up space that could otherwise be used to bury an eligible servicemember, the army requires a joint or concurrent resolution from Congress before it will place new memorials on cemetery grounds. Still, there are several memorials on cemetery grounds, and groups regularly seek to use the ever-diminishing grounds for new memorials.
Near the Tomb of the Unknowns stands a memorial to the 266 men who lost their lives aboard the USS Maine. The memorial is built around a mast salvaged from the Maine’s wreckage. The USS Maine Memorial served as the temporary resting place for foreign heads of state or government, Manuel L. Quezon of the Philippines and Ignacy Jan Paderewski of Poland, who died in exile in the United States during World War II.
The Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial was dedicated on May 20, 1986, in memory of the crew of flight STS-51-L, who died during launch on January 28, 1986. Transcribed on the back of the stone is the text of the John Gillespie Magee, Jr. poem High Flight. Although many remains were identified and returned to the families for private burial, some were not, and were laid to rest under the marker. Two crew members, Scobee and Smith, are buried in Arlington. On February 1, 2004, NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe dedicated a similar memorial to those who died when the Shuttle Columbia broke apart during reentry on February 1, 2003. Astronauts Laurel Clark, David Brown and Michael Anderson, who were killed in the Columbia disaster, are also buried in Arlington.
On a knoll just south of Arlington House, with views of the Washington Monument and Capitol, is a memorial to Pierre Charles L'Enfant, the architect who laid out the city of Washington. His remains lie below a marble memorial incised with his plan for the city. L'Enfant envisioned a grand neoclassical capital city for the young republic that would rival the capitals of European monarchies.
The Cairn, the Lockerbie memorial, is a memorial to the 270 killed in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The memorial is constructed of 270 stones, one for each person killed in the disaster. In section 64, a memorial to the 184 victims of the September 11 attacks on the Pentagon was dedicated September 11, 2002. The memorial takes the shape of a pentagon, and lists the names of all the victims that were killed and unidentified remains of victims.
The noted composer, arranger, trombonist and big band leader Maj. Alton Glenn Miller of the U.S. Army Air Forces has been missing in action since December 15, 1944. Miller was eligible for a memorial headstone in Arlington National Cemetery as a service member who died on active duty whose remains were not recoverable. At his daughter's request, a stone was placed in Memorial Section H, Number 464-A on Wilson Drive in Arlington National Cemetery in April 1992.
Only two mausoleums located within the confines of the cemetery. One holds the family of General Nelson Appleton Miles. The other, in Section 1, belongs to the family of General Thomas Crook Sullivan.
On June 25, 1925, President Calvin Coolidge approved a request to erect a Commonwealth Cross of Sacrifice with the names of all the citizens of the USA who lost their lives fighting in the Canadian forces during World War I. The monument was dedicated November 11, 1927 and after the Korean War and World War II the names of US citizens who died in those conflicts were added.
The Women in Military Service for America Memorial is adjacent to the Ceremonial Entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.
On May 15, 1997, after more than two decades of denying the existence of the "Secret War" in Laos during the Vietnam War conflict, the U.S. government officially acknowledged this once covert war, honoring its U.S. and Laos Hmong veterans with the opening of the Laos Memorial on the Arlington National Cemetery grounds, along a path between the John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame and the Tomb of the Unknowns.
|Tomb of the Unknowns|
|Arlington Memorial Amphitheater|
|USMC War Memorial|
|John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame|
|Robert F. Kennedy|
|USS Maine Memorial|
|Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial|
|Civil War Unknowns Monument|
|Victims of Terrorist Attack on the Pentagon Memorial|
The flags in Arlington National Cemetery are flown at half-staff from a half hour before the first funeral until a half hour after the last funeral each day. Funerals are normally conducted five days a week, excluding weekends.
Funerals, including interments and inurnments, average between 27-30 per day. The cemetery conducts approximately 6,900 burials each year.
With more than 400,000 interments, Arlington National Cemetery has the second-largest number of burials of any national cemetery in the United States. The largest of the 130 national cemeteries is the Calverton National Cemetery, on Long Island, near Riverhead, New York, which conducts more than 7,000 burials each year.
In addition to in-ground burial, Arlington National Cemetery also has one of the larger columbaria for cremated remains in the country. Four courts are currently in use, each with 5,000 niches. When construction is complete, there will be nine courts with a total of 50,000 niches; capacity for 100,000 remains. Any honorably discharged veteran is eligible for inurnment in the columbarium, if s/he served on active duty at some point in her/his career (other than for training).
Part 553 of Title 32 of the Code of Federal Regulations establishes regulations for Arlington National Cemetery, including eligibility for interment (ground burial) and inurnment. Due to limited space, the criteria for ground burial eligibility are more restrictive than at other national cemeteries, as well as more restrictive than for inurnment in the columbarium.
The persons specified below are eligible for ground burial in Arlington National Cemetery, unless otherwise prohibited. The last period of active duty of former members of the armed forces must have ended honorably. Interment may be of casketed or cremated remains.
Due at least partly to the lack of space at the cemetery for ground burial, standards for inurnment (burial of cremated remains) in the columbarium are currently much less restrictive than for ground burial at the Cemetery. In general, any former member of the armed forces who served on active duty (other than for training) and whose last service terminated honorably is eligible for inurnment. Eligibility for inurnment is described fully in 32 C.F.R. § 553.15a.
Congress has from time to time created prohibited categories of persons that, even if otherwise eligible for burial, lose that eligibility. One such prohibition is against certain persons who are convicted of committing certain state or federal capital crimes, as defined in 38 U.S. Code § 2411. Capital crime is a specifically defined term in the statute, and for state offenses can include offenses that are eligible for a life sentence (with or without parole). The reasoning for this provision originally was to prevent Timothy McVeigh from being eligible at Arlington National Cemetery, but it has since been amended to prevent others.
Also prohibited under the same statute are those determined, with clear and convincing evidence, to have avoided such conviction by death or flight.
The first soldier to be buried in Arlington was Private William Henry Christman of Pennsylvania on May 13, 1864. As of May 2006, there were 367 Medal of Honor recipients buried in Arlington National Cemetery, nine of whom are Canadian.
Four state funerals have been held at Arlington: those of Presidents William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy, that of General John J. Pershing, and that of U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Whether or not they were wartime service members, U.S. presidents are eligible to be buried at Arlington, since they oversaw the armed forces as commanders-in-chief.
Among the most frequently visited sites in the cemetery is the grave of President John F. Kennedy, who is buried with his wife, Jacqueline, and two of their children. His remains were interred there on March 14, 1967, a reinterment from his original Arlington burial site, some 20 feet (6.1 m) away, where he was buried in November 1963. The grave is marked with the "eternal flame". The remains of his brothers, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, are buried nearby. The latter two graves are marked with simple crosses and footstones. On December 1, 1971, Robert Kennedy's body was reinterred 100 feet (30 m) from its original June 1968 burial site.
Until 2005, the cemetery's administration gave free access, with the family's permission, to the media to cover funerals at the cemetery. According to the Washington Post, over the past several years the cemetery has gradually imposed increasing restrictions on media coverage of funerals.
On June 9, 2010, United States Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh reprimanded Arlington National Cemetery's superintendent, John Metzler, and his deputy, Thurman Higgenbotham, after a United States Department of Defense inspector general's report revealed that cemetery officials had placed the wrong headstones on tombs, buried coffins in shallow graves, and buried bodies on top of one another. Metzler, who had already announced his intention to retire on July 2, 2010, admitted some mistakes had been made but denied allegations of widespread or serious mismanagement. The investigation also found that cemetery employees were burdened in their day-to-day work by "dysfunctional management, lack of established policy and procedures, and an overall unhealthy organizational climate." Both Metzler and Higgenbotham retired soon after the investigation commenced.
In March 2011, as a result of the problems discovered, Kathryn Condon, the recently appointed director of the Army Cemeteries Program, announced that the cemetery's staff had been increased from 102 to 159. She added that the cemetery was also acquiring additional equipment because, "They didn't have the proper equipment to do the job really to the standard they needed to do."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Arlington National Cemetery|
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