Saturday, November 1, 2008

Arlington National Cemetery

A group of us went to Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, the best known of more than a hundred national cemeteries in the U.S.

This is President John F. Kennedy's grave above. Note the constant flame at the center of the circle.

Above is the Memorial Amphitheater where memorials are held and wreaths are presented each Memorial Day and Veterans Day. We met a man here who had come to visit the Challenger Memorial to remember his uncle who had been commander of the crew.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded 24/7 regardless of inclement weather by sentinels who are on duty for 24 hrs, then 24hrs off for 5 days, then 4 days off. Less than 20% of all volunteers are accepted for training and of those only a fraction pass training to become full-fledged Tomb Guards. During the changing of the guard you can hear a pin drop, and to the right you can see veteran soldiers, some of whom were weeping. It was a very humbling and poignant moment.

Over 320,000 servicemen & their family members rest on these 624 acres and about 27 burials are conducted every weekday.

Arlington House, or the Robert E. Lee Memorial, overlooks the Potomac river. These beautiful columns look like marble but were in fact built by slaves from handmade brick, covered in cement and then painted to look like sandstone & marble.

This is the view looking across the river.

This shows Arlington Memorial Bridge leading to the Lincoln Memorial today and how it looked in 1865.
Once we reached the bottom of the hill, our group headed back to their cars, but Salim and I wanted to pay our respects to Section 60 where the fallen soldiers from the Iraq war were buried.

With our country still at war, and thousands of soldiers still deployed, we wanted to pay our respects to those that had fallen to maintain our freedom. We approached Section 60 with lumps in our throats and slowly walked the lines taking in every tombstone. Family members quietly chatted in groups while others sat in silent reflection. The sun beat down and I was acutely conscious of the sun's rays warming my back and profoundly grateful to those beneath my feet who had ensured that I could continue to do so.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the Arlington Cemetary pictures. I haven't made it there yet but hope to some day! Love Heidi