One of the most visited tourist attractions around the Washington DC area, wander the grounds of the Arlington National Cemetery to reflect on those who have served our nation. The cemetery’s 624 acres of rolling green hills dotted with trees that are hundreds of years old, monuments and the gardens spread throughout the developed acres of the cemetery honor those who have served the nation and their families by providing them with a sense of beauty and peace.
The Welcome Center
Start your time at Arlington National Cemetery in the Welcome Center. Located at the cemetery entrance you’ll find useful maps, guidebooks, information services, a bookstore and restrooms. Exhibits and displays that tell the story of the Arlington National Cemetery and its significance to the nation can also be found in the Welcome Center.
Sat atop a hillside that overlooks the Potomac River and Washington DC’s National Mall, Arlington House has been designated as a National Memorial to General Robert E. Lee and is now a mark of widespread respect for Lee in both the North and South. The 19th century mansion seems out of place amid the burial grounds, however, the estate never intended to be a national gravesite when built in the early 1800s.
The result of Ivory Kimball’s efforts to honor America’s servicemen and women, the Memorial Amphitheater is an outdoor amphitheater, exhibit hall and nonsectarian chapel. Used for state funerals, Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies and on Easter, the amphitheater draws an estimated 5,000 visitors to each of its three major annual memorial services.
The Tomb of the Unknowns
In March of 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American solider from World War I. Today, standing atop a hill overlooking Washington DC is Arlington Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns, part of the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater. While it was originally called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, other unknown servicemen were later entombed at the site and it became known as the “Tomb of the Unknowns.”
USS Maine Mast Memorial
Situated near the Tomb of the Unknowns is the USS Maine Mast Memorial. Built around a mast salvaged from the Maine’s wreckage, the memorial commemorates the 266 men who lost their lives aboard the USS Maine and once served as the temporary resting place for former President Manual L. Quezon of the Philippines and Prime Minister of Poland Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
The Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial
Dedicated on May 20, 1986, the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial honors the crew of flight STS-51-L who died during launch on January 28, 1986. While many remains were identified and returned to the families of the crew members for private burials, those that were not, were laid to rest under the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial marker.
President John F. Kennedy Gravesite
Marked with the eternal flame, President John F. Kennedy’s gravesite is among the most frequently visited in Arlington National Cemetery. Buried with wife Jacqueline and two of their children, President Kennedy is one of the two Presidents buried in the Arlington National Cemetery. The Remains of his brothers Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Senator Edward M. Kennedy can also be found buried nearby.
Robert F. Kennedy Gravesite
In 1968 Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated and laid to rest nearby his brother President John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery. In 1971 a more elaborate gravesite was requested by the Kennedy family and Robert Kennedy’s body was reinterred 100 feet from its original burial site. Today his grave can be found next to his brother Edward M. Kennedy; both graves are marked with simple crosses and footstones.
President William Howard Taft Monument
President William Howard Taft was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on March 11, 1930. Until John F. Kennedy was laid to rest in the cemetery in 1963, Taft had been the only president buried in the park. To this day Taft and Kennedy are the only two Presidents buried beneath the soil of the Arlington National Cemetery.
Changing of the Guard
The Tomb of the Unknowns has been constantly guarded by the U.S. Army since July of 1937. Highly motivated and proud to honor all American service members who are “Known But to God”, witness the Guards of Honor and the elaborate ritual they follow as they watch over the Tomb of the Unknowns. The Changing of the Guard is a public ceremony and a remarkable sight to see which occurs every hour from October 1st to March 31st and every half hour from April 1st to September 30th.