Travel Report: Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C.
May 2009. Known to many red-blooded American patriots as “The United States’ most hallowed ground”, Arlington National Cemetery is the country’s most historical and dramatic graveyard, home to over four hundred thousand people. Spread out across a whopping 624 acres, you could easily spend 60-90 minutes here reading the various headstones as you make your way along the garden paths and woodland trails. There are also choice city views to be had from certain vantage points, such as this cool spot overlooking The Lincoln and Washington Memorials.
May 2009. The cemetery was established way back during The Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, the grand mansion home of confederate general Robert E. Lee. The compound was later claimed as a military cemetery in 1864 after Lee and his family moved on. The house is still here, with daily tours available, while the graveyard itself is no mere museum piece and still conducts between 20-30 funerals daily.
May 2009. Arlington Cemetery is also the final resting place for some of the country’s most revered national heroes. Do a bit of research online and you can find the graves of William Howard Taft, America’s 27thpresident, as well as world champion boxer Joe Louis and all seven astronauts who died in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. I have to admit that it felt pretty special to come face to face with the grave of assassinated US President John F. Kennedy, who is laid to rest here alongside his brother Bobby and wife Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis.
May 2009. JFK’s funeral took place right here on November the 25th 1963 and today an eternal flame marks the spot. This tasteful stone slab reminds visitors of one of Kennedy’s most famous quotes. Another unmissable Arlington spot is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a giant white sarcophagus in honor of those unidentified soldiers who fell during World War I and II, as well as in Korea and Vietnam.
May 2009. Arlington Cemetery is free to enter daily from 08:00-19:00 (April to September), 08:00-17:00 (October to March). It’s very well connected by public transport; there’s a whole bunch of ways to get here. I took the metro and jumped off at Arlington Cemetery on the blue line. It’s literally a two-minute walk from there. Be sure to check in at the main gate where warm staff members are on hand to help and don’t forget to catch the hourly changing of the guard ceremony.
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