Arlington National Cemetery sits across the Potomac River from Washington DC and is reserved for America’s fallen heroes. The cemetery was established at the end of the Civil War on what was the grounds of Arlington House owned by the family of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Arlington now holds the gravestones of more than 400,000 fallen.
Walking through the more than 640 acres that make up the grounds of the cemetery one cannot help but feel melancholic. It is a most humbling experience. The grave markers seem to stretch on forever. Walking through the cemetery on any given day you will witness a burial ceremony being conducted as more than 5,000 burials are held each year and each conducted in the traditions established.
A sign directs you to the grave site of President John F. Kennedy, assassinated on November 22, 1963 after only 1,000 days in office. There an eternal flame marks the grave site of America’s 35th President. The burials of his wife and son flank his bronze head stone. He is one of many famous American heroes laid to rest here but there are also over 5,000 unknown soldiers buried throughout the cemetery. Each given the same respect and protocols that any other fallen American veteran is afforded.
Arlington Cemetery is beautiful. It is also very sad. It is overwhelming. So peaceful this setting is for those that are buried here. I cannot help but think that before any American President commits our citizens to an armed conflict that they should come here first and walk the grounds and reflect.
The memorial of the unknown buried at the cemetery.