The days are flying by so fast here in D.C. I just can’t get enough of it. Yesterday afternoon Karlee and I hopped on the Metro and headed to the Arlington Cemetery.
You get a sense of peace as you walk through the Arlington Cemetery. It’s such a quite and beautiful cemetery. I feel honored to be among the men and women who have served our country. The cemetery, formed during the American Civil War on June 15, 1864, is full of so much history. It holds the history of the servicemen, slaves, and the civil war with over 250,000 (correct me if I’m wrong) grave sites throughout the 624 acre cemetery.
Karlee and I started at the visitor center and made our way up to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier. There are a lot of signs that help guide you through the cemetery. If you don’t want to get lost like we did, I recommend taking a walking tour or bus tour.
If you do plan on going to the Arlington National Cemetery, I recommend dedicating an entire day to it. There is so much to see learn, and witness. I wish I would have read up on it more before going because now I want to go back to see some things I researched. We walked around for five hours and I still didn’t get to see it all.
One of the most memorable events of the day was watching the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier swap. Everyone is to remain silent and stay standing. You couldn’t hear a pin drop it was so quiet. These men are more than inspiring, dedicated, and passionate about what they do. Those are all understatements. They are heroes and I felt honored to even be in their presence.
The tomb of the unknown soldier is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a week. During storms, hot heat, and snow…the guards still stand. They swap positions every 3o minutes and live a very strict lifestyle dedicated to the tomb. They must meet certain height and measurement requirements, they live under the tomb for two years, and spend their off time studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. They even spend 5 hours a day preparing their uniforms for duty. They must live an alcohol free life until death and honor the wreath pin.
Next to the Tomb of the Unknown soldier is the Memorial Amphitheater and it looks like something you’d see in Greece.
This is where they hold services and ceremonies.
Memorials Day, Easter, and Veterans Day bring in about 5,000 visitors for the official ceremonies.
The landscape is also very breathtaking. There are trees there that I’ve never seen in my life. A lot of the trees have been there longer than the gravesite. It’s majestic.
This is the view from the bottom of the Tomb of he Unknown Soldier and Memorial Amphitheater.
Karlee and I noticed a lot of infant graves. I read up on the graves and most of the infants died of accidents and disease. They all had military parents. Most of the gravestones were between the years 1947-1953, when the flu was an epidemic.
We saw an army burial service ending about two acres over and watched the army helicopters take off. On a normal weekday, there are about 25-30 burial services a day.
We walked up to the Custis-Lee Mansion. There is so much history on the house and the ownership that I would overflow this blogpost with if I added it all. The house was originally supposed to be a memorial to George Washington. It was build by his first adopted grandson.
Mary Anna Custis-Lee was given the house to live in for the rest of her life which was stated in her father’s will.
This was the view from the outside of their home.
There is a guided tour of the the inside of the house as well.
I’m excited to visit the Arlington Cemetery again because I missed so much and want to take it all in before I leave D.C.
The part about living under the Tomb and abstaining from alcohol is a myth, FYI.
Taralynn McNitt says
I’ll have to look into that. I overhead one of the guides telling his group that the guards could not drink on or off duty for his lifetime and that they do intact live under the tomb. Something to look into 🙂
It is sort of a rumor.
They live under the tomb while on duty. 24 hours on and 24 hours off, during the 24 hours on duty they reside under the tomb where they can relax and take care of their uniform.
Also, its ‘changing of the guard’ not a swap. It is a very elaborate event.
They actually only live under the tomb during their 24 hour shift and can drink when they are off duty as long as they are of legal age. It’s on the website for anyone to read!
I think the part about alcohol is a myth, but they definitely live under the tomb…even Arlington’s website mentions that 🙂 Their dedication is unbelievable!
You are right near me! I always take for granted how close I am to DC and how many great things there are to see. I’m glad you are getting around and getting to see all the touristy things! I’m also glad you got to see the Changing of the Guard, those soldiers are so dedicated and it’s inspiring to see them guarding the tomb no matter the time or weather. Hope you enjoy the rest of your trip!
SO glad you went there! It’s one of my favorite places in DC. The sense of awe never disappears, no matter how many times you go. My favorite places are the eternal flame for Kennedy, and the site for the Challenger astronauts. Arlington is such an amazing, somber reminder of the sacrifice that is needed to make our country so great.
I remember my first time visiting here (4th grade). Such a great experience! The part about living under the tomb and not being able to drink are myths (no drinking while working though, of course lol). Also cemetery is spelled wrong in the title of this post! Thanks for sharing 🙂
I’m loving your DC posts! I left you some recommendations before you left and after seeing the things you’ve done during your stay, it’s so easy to forget how much there is to do and see when you actually live here. Arlington Cemetary is truly humbling and beautiful. I used to walk through it frequently with my grandfather growing up and this made my day 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it and can’t wait to see the rest of your trip!
My boyfriend actually used to be in the Old Guard & stationed there! He did Presidential ceremonies & all that. I couldn’t say 100 % about the alcohol thing since he wasn’t part of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (they have to do special separate training for that) – the rest of base deeeefinitely doesn’t have to follow that rule haha. But! They do all spend a looooong time fixing their uniforms, they have to be super perfect. But yeah! Arlington Cemetery is amazing, & so, so huge. It’s definitely worth going back again before you leave. Glad you’re having a good time over in my neck of the woods 🙂
I’m speechless reading this. The cemetery is beautiful. And the columns….. Wow.
Glad you had the opportunity to visit, hopefully I ei someday too.
I’m so glad you posted this! I visited Arlington on my 8th grade D.C. trip (it’s tradition here for many So cal schools to visit DC/the easy coast during spring break) and I remember it being absolutely freezing cold and raining. I wish that I had more time to explore the cemetery and learn more about it, but it was absolutely beautiful! I’m glad someone posted the link to FAQ about the tomb…I learned so much!!
This is an amazing place. I love how much history comes out of it!
Linda @ The Fitty says
Wow, they sure maintain the garden really well. It’s a beautiful place!
Melissa @ Green Palate Life says
Love that you’re having so much fun in DC! That’s where I’m from & love it, as well. You seem like you would fit right in there 🙂
I loved this post. Your photos were great.
My uncle is buried there. Thank you for this post.
I have lived in D.C. for about 3 years and just now visited the cemetery because of your post. Thank you!