Monday, May 27, 2019
Arlington National Cemetery is where many of our military dead are buried. If you ever get the chance to see it GO. There is nothing I can tell you that gives justice to the sea of perfectly aligned headstones that mark the graves of fallen soldiers and dignitaries.
The history of the cemetery is astounding with many historical figures mentioned.
George Washington married Martha Custis, a widow wirh 4 children. One of her grandsons was George Washington Parke Custis. George and Martha raised him after his father died when GWPC was just 6 months old.
GWPC eventually married. He and his wife had 4 children but the only one to survive until adulthood was Mary Anna Randolph Custis.
They lived on a lovely bit of land GWPC inherited from his father. It was about 1000 acres that overlooked the Potomac River with a view of Washington DC. He built a Greek Revival home at the top of the hill to take advantage of the view.
GWPC gave a 'living inheritance' to his daughter that specified that she could not dispose of any or all of the land during her life.
Mary married a military man with a great future. He had graduated from West Point and was highly regarded in the highest circles of political society. His name was Robert E Lee.
When Lee chose to remain loyal to Virginia during the Civil War they had to reluctantly relocate. Union forces captured and occupied Arlington. As was common practice at the time Mary buried many family valuables before she left.
Because of the war the two nearby cemeteries rapidly filled. The US government realized that national cemeteries would be needed. After deliberating on locations it was decided that Arlington was the best spot.
Arlington had a view of Washington DC, it sat on high ground as protection from flooding, and it had a serene, pleasant feel to it. A bonus to using Arlington was that since it was the home of Robert E Lee he would have no home after the war.
The US government purchased Arlington for taxes after denying payment of those taxes from Mary Custis Lee.
In 1874 Mary's son George Washington Custis Lee (also known as Custis Lee) sued the US government claiming that he was the rightful owner of Arlington. He won. He then sold Arlington to the government for $150,000.
There was a signing ceremony to transfer Arlington back to the government. Attending were Custis Lee and Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln.
Arlington House is still on the grounds. It is a beautiful home.
There are several monuments and places of interest in Arlinton National Cemetery. I will let you search for them if you are interested. I want to mention only two of them.
The Tomb of the Unknowns honors those who lost their lives in wars but were unable to be identified. With modern science identification is more probable and some of the unknowns have been named.
The Tomb of the Unknowns is located on the spot where Robert E Lee had his garden.
The guards for the Tomb of the Unknowns are there 24 hours of the day. The solemn ceremony is beautiful, majestic, and sad all at once. Even small children become quiet to see them perform their duties.
Volunteer soldiers guard the Tomb. They undergo rigorous training to qualify. They guard in every kind of weather all day and all night.
The second memorial is the Eternal Flame for President John Kennedy. I suppose it is because Kennedy's assassination was such an indelible mark in my brain that I feel its importance.
Remember a serviceman today.