Arlington National Cemetery

views updated May 21 2018

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is comprised of 624 acres and sits on the Virginia bank of the Potomac River, opposite Washington, D.C. It was originally part of the estate of President George Washington (1732–1799; served 1789–97) and was passed along to his adopted son, G. W. Parke Custis. Custis's daughter, Mary Ann, who inherited the estate, married Confederate general Robert E. Lee (1807–1870).

Military hospital erected

The United States seized the estate upon the outbreak of the American Civil War (1861–65). The military built a fort and a hospital on the site and the grounds were used as a cemetery. In 1882, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the property be returned to the Lee family accepted $150,000 payment for the land and it became one of the most important historical sites maintained by the U.S. government.

The soldiers of every war since the American Revolution (1775–83) are buried in Arlington National Cemetery, as are distinguished statesmen, including Presidents William Howard Taft (1857–1930; served 1909–13) and John F. Kennedy (1917–1963; served 1961–63). Also in the cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier), which commemorates the dead of both world wars and the Korean War (1950–53). This shrine sits on top of a hill overlooking Washington, D.C., and was opened to the public in 1932. The tomb is guarded twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, by the U.S. Army.

Includes ceremonial facilities

The Tomb of the Unknowns is part of the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater, which seats fifteen thousand people and is host to Veteran's Day and Memorial Day services. It was completed in 1921 and sits on the site where Robert E. Lee once had his gardens.

There are other sites on the cemetery grounds that attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. One of these is a memorial to the members of the crew who died in the Challenger Space Shuttle explosion in January 1986. There is also a Pentagon memorial, dedicated to the 184 lives lost during the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Pentagon.

Arlington National Cemetery

views updated Jun 27 2018


ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, originally part of George Washington's estate, has become one of the most important shrines that the United States maintains. In 1861 the United States seized the estate from its owner, Robert E. Lee, and by 1864 it had begun using the grounds as a cemetery. Following an 1882 Supreme Court decision, the government officially purchased the estate from Lee's heir. The dead of every war since the American Revolution and distinguished statesmen, including John F. Kennedy, rest in the cemetery.

The U.S. government has restored Arlington House and erected a Memorial Amphitheater. The Tomb of the Unknowns commemorates the dead of the two world wars and the Korean War.


Holt, Dean W. American Military Cemeteries: A Comprehensive Illustrated Guide to the Hallowed Grounds of the United States, Including Cemeteries Overseas. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1992.


See alsoCemeteries, National ; United States v. Lee ; Unknown Soldier, Tomb of the ; andvol. 9:Dedicating the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier .

Arlington National Cemetery

views updated May 29 2018

Arlington National Cemetery the American national burial ground in Arlington County, Virginia, which is the resting place of important soldiers and statesman.

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Arlington National Cemetery

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