Below are observations from my visit to Arlington National Cemetery.
The first impression that hits you when visiting Arlington National Cemetery is its vastness. Divided into 70 sections, spanning over 600 acres and interring almost 300,000 American servicemen and women, it is impossible to take in from any one vantage point.
Arlington is very park-like and serene. Though populated with officers corps initially, this is very much a people’s cemetery with officers interred beside enlisted men. I came upon the grave of a former Secretary of the Army and a Bronze Star recipient buried beside enlisted men with a standard tombstone adorned with a cross.
Arlington is very much an active cemetery holding around 100 funerals per week. I passed a family singing Happy Birthday and celebrating the birthday of their loved one, and a woman sitting quietly in a beach chair in the rain spending time with her loved one.
There is a series of long roads that begin at the base of the cemetery and wind their way to the apex of a steep hill where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier rests. Engraved on the mausoleum is the inscription, “Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God,” acknowledgment that we are a religious nation at our core who take comfort in God in times of sadness and loss. Behind the tomb is a small museum which contains Medals of Honor for unknown soldiers fallen during World Wars I and II and the Korean and Vietnam wars.
The vastness of Arlington and the totality of the sacrifice is what imbues the visit with meaning. Whether fighting the Axis powers in World War II, 20th century communism or the Islamo-Fascists of the 21st century, every American interred at Arlington is united in his love of country and the freedom we hold dear. The totality of this awe-inspiring devotion should inspire the rest of us to fight every effort to ‘fundamentally transform’ America into something other than the freedom loving constitutional republic that we adore. We owe it to the men and women who rest here and their families who have sacrificed the unimaginable.
There are a number of pictures which accompany this post.