Memorial Day, a federal holiday established after the Civil War, is a day we honor the service, sacrifice, and immeasurable courage of all those Americans who lost their lives while in military service. This month, 150 years ago, the first military burial took place at Arlington National Cemetery. Although we knew there would be throngs of people visiting this weekend, and there were, we felt compelled to walk these hallowed grounds, to honor the fallen and their selfless service.
As we entered the visitor center, packed with those here to pay their respects, we knew we would need to return at a later date to take in the exhibits at a much more leisurely pace.
Beyond the doors of the visitor center, rolling verdant hills, dotted with countless white headstones adorned with small American flags, grace the landscape. More than 400,000 active-duty, veterans, and their families lie beneath these grassy slopes, a profoundly beautiful and peaceful final resting place. Immaculate gardens with trees hundreds of years old pay tribute to those who sacrificed everything.
On any given weekday, as many as 30 funeral services are performed at Arlington. As we walked along one of the many paths winding through the gardens, a somber sight met our eyes, servicemen marching in unison, followed by a horse-drawn caisson carrying a flag-draped casket. A riderless horse slowly walked behind, one lone boot strapped to the saddle. The sense of loss was felt as the funeral procession passed by. Three rifle volleys and the mournful sound of a lone bugler playing Taps accompanied the service.
The Tomb of the Unknowns sits high on a hill overlooking Washington DC, one of the most well-attended sites within Arlington. Within this crypt lie the remains of unknown servicemen from World War I, II, and the Korean War. Soldiers from the 3rd U. S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) maintain a 24-hour, 365-day long vigil, with an elaborate ritual changing the guard taking place every 30 minutes. The poor lighting conditions and the throngs of visitors made it impossible to get good photos but I was thankful to witness this memorable ceremony.
Rising above the Potomac River on a lush hillside stands the impressive Arlington House, where Robert E. Lee and wife lived out their years caring for her family home. Standing outside the front door you look out over the Washington Monument and the Capitol and at the base of this grassy hilltop the Eternal Flame flickers, site where President John F. Kennedy was laid to rest, one of only two Presidents interred at Arlington. Many thought the family plot in Massachusetts would be the burial site but First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy felt “he belongs to the people” so Arlington was chosen, and the lovely Jacqueline is buried at his side.
On this most somber of holidays, we remember the fallen and our thoughts go out to the loved ones who live with the gravity of their loss.
57 thoughts on “Remembering the Fallen ~ Arlington National Cemetery”
A very moving post.
You’re welcome LuAnn
A beautiful and tender tribute!
Thanks so much my friend.
Even with the crowds, it was a great day visit. Glad you had nice weather for your visit:)
It was terribly crowded but still felt right to be there.
A very thoughtful post!
Having visited the Arlington recently I can feel your thoughtful tribute, LuAnn. And a perfect place to be on this day to remember the fallen.
It was my first visit and I feel we should go back when it is less crowded. Seeing the funeral procession pass by was very moving.
If you go back and continue to walk towards the AC section 1 on Meigs Dr you will see the church where that funeral procession came from. That’s the church where Steve used to be a Wedding Coordinator at Ft Myers while he was at the Airforce force years ago.
Also you can access the Iwo Jima memorial now called Marine Corps War Memorial from the Arlington Cemetery on the north end.
From the visitor center you can also walk to the Women in Military Service on Memorial Ave.
Thanks MonaLiza. I will definitely check these out.
Thank You for remembering the fallen… a beautiful tribute. ((hugs))
My pleasure Nancy.
Thanks for stopping by Marsha.
I’m so glad you were able to get there, today. I was there, several years ago, and just burst into tears, thinking about all those people who had given their lives for our country. Thank you for sharing.
My pleasure Joan. Although we are not much for crowds these days, it still felt right to be there.
LuAnn although I am not American is very stirring as those who served for our freedoms came from so many countries. The photo of the cemetery is shocking. So many crosses it is hard to fathom.
It is like a sea of headstones. Very difficult to fathom so many lives lost, so many at such a young age.
Thank you for this very moving post.
Very moving images, LuAnn. This is such a hallowed place. I was moved beyond words as I walked through there, a few years ago.
We were as well Sylvia. Thanks for stopping by.
I loved Arlington… I had a feeling of companionship when entering the area… having lost so many friends on the Rhodesian border one feels the somberness of the whole area… As for the changing of the guard, pure brilliance…
I cannot believe it has taken me this long to see it…a breathtaking yet very sad setting. Glad you got a chance to visit Bulldog.
Thank you for this very evocative and poignant post LuAnn. A lovely tribute to your heroes on memorial day.
My pleasure Madhu. I hope you had a lovely weekend.
It is hard to think about war and the sacrifice our people give for freedom.
It all seems so senseless to me.
Yes, like so much in this world, past future and present.
A lovely post. We must never forget.
Thanks Carol. Where are you two right now since it is so hot in AZ? Or is it a secret? 😉
No. No secret. We are still in hot hot hot and getting hotter AZ but only for another month.Then we’re heading back to Europe. Bring on that rain and those grey days. What have we done?
I remembered well living in Phoenix and praying for a cloudy, rainy day. Too many days of just hot sunny weather is about as exciting as too many cloudy days back here in the East. Any closer to making any final living arrangements?
We’re getting there. We’ve made the big decision. We’re going to be busy over the next few months – including two weddings and a baby. Oh! That sounds like a blog post! That would be a grandbaby. We’re crazy, but not that crazy.
Glad to hear you are making progress. Nothing would surprise me about you. 😉 Congratulations on the grand baby!
Thank you. Less than a week to go till her arrival! I’m wondering about your comment. Am I that wacky? I hope so. Normal is so boring.
I love wacky! Normal is so overrated. Hubby definitely thinks I’m a bit wacky. 😆
Kindred spirits. 😉
Thank you for your post. Do try to get back when it is quiet. It is hard to describe how my heart was caught by the quiet and peacefulness when I was there on a less attended day. If you are in the area around the first weekend of Dec. (and if this is still done) on Antietam battlefield in Maryland, local groups place a luminaria (sand filled paper bag with lit candle inside) for each casualty. Over 20,000 luminarias stretching over many acres of what is now mostly farmland. Vehicles line up on the road for a turn to drive through. Incredibly moving! We were there in 2000, but I understood that it is done every year.
We will not be here in December but would love to see this. I love luminaries. When we lived in the historic district of Phoenix we would get together with our neighbors and line the streets with them at Christmas. I can’t imagine how moving it would be to see acres of them at Antietam. I am going to Google this to see if any images pop up. Thanks Mary Ann! 🙂
LuAnn, I was curious so I Googled this myself. Look up Antietam Battlefield Illumination and find lots of info. It is still being done, and some sites have pictures.
I saw some pictures and would love to see this in person. Thanks for telling me about it. 🙂
I’ve heard them cried. I’ve fold that flag and given it to them. I’ve fired the rifle saluting and honoring them. Thank you for remembering our fallen comrades.
What an honor to be a part of such a ceremony Rommel. It was quite a moving experience for us to witness.
Thank you for this beautiful and moving post, LuAnn. I always take time on Memorial Day to contemplate the sacrifices made by so many during times of war; and offer up a prayer that we may be wise and compassionate enough to avoid future wars.
That is my prayer as well Laurel. Looking at the hillsides full of gravestones, it all seems so senseless.
LuAnn, what a moving experience this must have been; to witness a burial and see the tomb of the unknown soldier. Just to be there is probably beyond description. You captured the cemetery beautifully.
Thanks Sheila. It was a very touching moment.
You couldn’t of been at a more perfect place this past weekend. I have never been here…so really enjoyed these pictures.
a fine tribute my friend and something we should all take note of and never forget.
Thank you, LuAnn…
My pleasure Amy.