Thursday, August 13, 2015

Honoring the Dead and the Living at Arlington

Did you know that the land occupied by Arlington National Cemetery was once owned by the grandson of Martha Washington?  And further, it was passed on to his daughter who married Robert E. Lee?  Thus, the Arlington House, Robert E. Lee's home, is located on the grounds today.  The complete history of how the cemetery is fascinating, but I'll leave you to read that by clicking on the link if you're interested.

The cemetery is so large, we took a tour bus to the different areas to see the most famous graves.  JFK, of course, and Robert Kennedy, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the changing of the Guard and Arlington House.  It was miserably hot and humid the day we went, so we didn't spend much time wandering the graves as we would normally have done.

Eternal flame at John F. Kennedy's gravesite

The flowers were just gorgeous all over the cemetery grounds.


Robert Kennedy's grave
You are supposed to have served in the military to be buried here, but I guess they made an exception for a Kennedy.

Watching the changing of the Guard

Changing of the Guard
We were lucky and honored to be able to see not only the changing of the Guard, but two wreath laying ceremonies while we were there.  Some official from Korea and his delegation, followed by the American Korean Veterans group.

First established during the civil war, the cemetery conducts between 27 and 30 funeral services each week day and 6 to 8 on Saturdays.  The grounds are filling up and there is a columbarium being built.  It's so sad to think of so many military men and women sacrificing their lives so that we may live free, but I'm glad that Americans are now in "honoring" mode.  We veterans do appreciate it!

Arlington House, also called the Robert E. Lee Memorial,  sits overlooking the cemetery and is the home where Robert E. Lee wrote the letter resigning from the U.S. Army.  Seized by the government for nonpayment of taxes, the Lee family sued and it was returned to them.  Lee's eldest son then sold the property back to the government and in 1955 it was designated as the permanent memorial.

Back parlor

Front parlor

Quilts in one of the bedrooms

Interpretive guide
She was standing around a corner and, when I first saw her, I though it was a mannequin.  Then she spoke and scared the living daylights out of me!

It seemed like there isn't much money to keep the house is good shape.  I wonder if it's because it's dedicated to a Confederate leader?

Arlington is also the site for the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.  Being a veteran myself, I was most interested in this museum.  It honors the contribution of women during all eras and in all services.  There were fascinating displays of military uniforms and accoutrements from the Civil War to the present day.  On one wall were displayed photos, with biographies, of women who are in or have been in the military, representing women of all races, nationalities and ranks.

Front of the memorial

Comfort Quilt
Created by an active duty physical therapist on board the USNS Comfort, the quilt tells the story of the deployment of the ship to the Persian Gulf during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Fallen Military Women Quilt
This quilt honors all the women who have died in the global war on terror.  Each woman's name and date of death is embroidered on the quilt.

So I was surprised to learn, as the title of this post indicates, that Arlington honors both the living and the dead of the military.  I'm proud to have served my country and proud that my country honors that.

Until next time...

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