Arlington National Cemetery is celebrating its 150th Anniversary in 2014. Starting on May 13th, the anniversary of the first burial at the cemetery in 1864, and through June 16th, there will be special events and tours to commemorate the history of this very special place.
Arlington National Cemetery Information
Arlington Memorial Cemetery is considered our nation’s cemetery as the resting place for over 400,000 active duty service members, veterans, and their families. It is a national treasure as well as an active cemetery which conducts up to 30 funerals per week, 7,000 funerals per year. More than 3 million people visit Arlington National Cemetery every year. There are also 3,000 special ceremonies held each year at Arlington from wreath laying ceremonies, historical reenactments, special services, such as the Easter sunrise service and the changing of the guard ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The cemetery is a living tribute to our nation’s past and “how it continues to thrive through the service and sacrifice of those willing to dedicate their life to its ideals.” It is the resting place for members of all branches of the military, astronauts, nurses, chaplains, war correspondents and unknowns. The remains of soldiers from every war that the United States has participated in from the Revolutionary War to the Afghanistan War are buried in these hallowed grounds. There are also over 4,000 former slaves buried at Arlington Memorial Cemetery. President John F. Kennedy, his wife, Jacqueline, and his brothers, Robert and Edward Kennedy are also buried at the cemetery amongst the many other veterans and dignitaries.
Arlington National Cemetery Facts
Arlington National Cemetery is on land once owned by George Washington Parke Custis, the adopted grandson of President George Washington. In 1857, Custis willed the home to his only surviving daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis, the wife of Confederate General, Robert E. Lee. When Lee resigned from the United States Army in 1861 to head the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, the family left the estate. The federal troops seized the land and turned it into a camp and headquarters. In 1864, the United States Government purchased the estate after the Lee’s had a tax dispute over the land. At the time, 200 acres were set aside for a cemetery (currently, the cemetery is 624 acres and expanding). On May 13th, 1864, Private William H. Christman became the first soldier to be laid to rest in the cemetery. In 1868, the cemetery became the focal point for “Decoration Day” festivities, later to be renamed Memorial Day. Arlington Memorial Cemetery has continued to grow and become a very special place to visit and pay respects to those who have served our country.
If you are visiting Washington D.C., don’t miss a chance to visit Arlington National Cemetery. There are different Arlington Cemetery tours available throughout the year. It is an awe-inspiring place to visit, reflect and commemorate our fallen heroes.