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ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Wednesday, October 27, 2004
Highlights: The final resting place for more than 250,000 American military personnel, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, many famous people are buried here; Presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, actor Lee Marvin, boxer Joe Lewis.
Lowlights: I only have 30 minutes to complete my tour.
Location: Arlington, VA
Hours: Open 365 days a year, 8am to 5pm, from Apr 1st to Sept 30th the cemetery closes at 7pm.
Phone: (703) 607-8000
Access: Wheelchair accessible.
Addl Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arlington_National_Cemetery
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On June 15, 1864, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton makes an official announcement, the Arlington Mansion and its 200 surrounding acres are to be used as a military cemetery. Former residence of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee, the estate is located directly across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
Soldiers from the American Revolution to the current conflicts in Afganistan and Iraq are buried here. All told, more than 260,000 individuals are interred here in Arlington, making it the second largest national cemetery in America. Conducting around 5,400 burials each year, most of the new burials are for veterans of the World War II era.
Administered by the Department of the Army, Arlington is the final resting place for a number of notable individuals, including Presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, actor Lee Marvin, and boxer Joe Lewis. Two of the more popular sights at the cemetery are the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the John F. Kennedy grave and its associated Eternal Flame.
In addition to the myriad military personnel and the handful of public figures who are buried here, 3,800 former slaves also call Arlington their final resting place.
The cemetery possesses a number of important memorials, including the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial, the USMC War Memorial, the Pentagon Memorial, and the Lockerbie Memorial.
All flags flown at Arlington are lowered to half-staff one half hour before the day's first funeral and are only raised on half hour after the last funeral has completed. During the weekdays, funerals are conducted on a daily bases, averaging more than 20 per day, while no funerals are held on the weekends. Options for burial include in-ground as well as cremation services. The cemetery currently has 20,000 niches for crematory remains. Plans are in the works to all an additional 50,000 niches to the cemetery's columbarium infrastructure.
I've just exited the subway and I'm now walking over to the entrance of Arlington National Cemetery. Come with me if you're interested in sacred, hallowed places. I guarentee, Arlington will be a somber experience, but, it's important to pay tribute the dead, to all those folks who fought to ensure a better, more peaceful world.
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