2 Oct 2018
Another must-see sight in the DC area is Arlington National Cemetery. It is a very special place that was created at the end of the Civil War, when the land was purchased by the federal government. But there is more to that story that includes several well-known Americans. A short version of that story can be read here. At the time of the purchase, there were already over 6000 Union Soldiers buried on the property.
The cemetery is a place of history, service to country, tragedy and heroes. I first visited the cemetery when I was a young farm boy from New York, and it made an immense impression on me. While at Coast Guard Headquarters, I was there twice as the Coast Guard representative for funerals of a retired member and for the spouse of an active duty member. The handling of these funerals was a very professional and caring process. I was able to see first hand the work of the Ladies of Arlington as they insured that family members of the deceased were attended too. I am sure that both the history of the place and the service provided to those being laid to rest here is why the demand is so high and why space is running out.
On this visit, we chose to take the guided tour which saved a lot of walking and we certainly saw more of the grounds that we could have on foot. In addition, the guide provided a narrative of what we were looking at as we moved along. You are free to leave the tour at any point. If you spend any time on the grounds, you are almost certain to see a service in progress.
Just outside of the gated cemetery grounds are several monuments and a bell tower given to the United States by the Netherlands.
The first is the Marine Corps monument which lists many of the actions the Marine Corps was involved in.
Nearby is a Monument to the USCG Cutter Tampa which was sunk with all hands while on convey duty in the Atlantic in 1918. 131 lives were lost.
The Carillion Tower was given to the United States by the Netherlands on 5 May 1960
in gratitude for the liberation from Nazi Germany and the American aid received after the war.