Thursday, October 13, 2011

Arlington National Cemetery


As Veterans Day approaches it is an opportunity to remember those brave men and women who have served our country and protected our freedoms, some paying the ultimate price n the process. Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington VA, just outside of Washington DC is the final resting place of service men and women from all the wars since the Civil War. There is a lot of history literally buried there. It is a place to honor, remember and explore.

The Veterans Day National Ceremony is held each year on November 11th at Arlington National Cemeter . The ceremony commences precisely at 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns and continues inside the Memorial Amphitheater with a parade of colors by veterans' organizations and remarks from dignitaries. The ceremony is intended to honor and thank all who served in the United States Armed Forces.

If you have an opportunity to visit Arlington National Cemetery, you can take a guided bus tour through the massive 624 acre grounds or take a walking tour on your own. Travelling on your own you can visit some of the more obscure, less visited historical gravesites, while the bus tour enables you to cover more area in a shorter time with stops at the main attractions including the Tomb of the Unkowns, President Kennedy's grave and eternal flame, and Custis-Lee Mansion. There is an average of 27-30 burials there each day, so there is a good chance that you will happen upon one during your visit. It is a sobering sight, to see. The cemetery is open 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Check for hours.

Arlington: The Story of Our Nation's Cemetery by Chris Demarest is an engaging picture book that covers the history of this hallowed ground. Having visted the cemetery in 2007 with the family, reading the book when it was published last year, made the stories and importance to our country seem even more alive. So if you don't have a chance to visit the cemetery you can experience a virtual visit and a well written history in Demarest's picture book.

On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington Antional Cemetery by Robert Poole is a more detailed book about Arlington, for high school students or adults.

Of course a field trip to Washington, DC is not feasible for all of us. So put it on your list of places to visit sometime and in the interim there are many national cemeteries around the country you could visit as well. The Department of Veterans Affairs maintains 131 national cemeteries around the country. The Department of Interior, National Park Service maintains 14 national cemeteries. Check and see if there is one near you that you could visit on Memorial Day or Veterans Day (or any day of the year for that matter). It is an opportunity to remember and pray for the veterans who have died, to explore a cemetery, study the architecture, and immerse yourself in the history and heritage of your area and our country by learning about those interned.

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