What is the Arlington National Cemetery?

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  • Written By: CPW
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  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2019
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The Arlington National Cemetery is a military cemetery located in Arlington, Virginia. It was established on the grounds of the Arlington House during the American Civil War for the interment of the war dead. Prior to its use as a cemetery, the estate was owned by the wife of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, Mary Anna Lee. After General Lee resigned his commission from the U.S. Army, the estate was arrogated for the burial, largely, of the Unionist dead. After the war, the estate’s heir, Custis Lee, sued the U.S. government and in 1882 The Supreme Court decided that the government should purchase the right to the land lawfully for a sum of $150,000.

The deaths attendant on the American Civil War meant that previous military cemeteries and hospitals were too small to accommodate the sheer numbers of war dead. In 1864, General Montogmoery C. Meigs suggested that 200 acres (0.81 km2) of Lee’s Arlington estate be sequestered for the purpose. Meigs’ suggestion was adopted immediately with the interment of the Unionist Private William Henry Christman of the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry the first of what would become 16,000 by the end of the war.


Today, the Arlington National Cemetery accommodates 290,000 graves and occupies 624 acres (2.53 km2) of the Arlington estate. Among the 290,000, are the fallen from each of the battle fields the United States has fought in, from the Civil War (1861-1865) to the more recent Iraq and Afghan wars. The cemetery also contains the graves of non-military dead, the most notable of whom are John F. Kennedy, his two sons, his wife and brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy.

The Arlington National Cemetery estate is home not just to the graves of fallen war dead but features a number of notable other sites. These include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (or the Tomb of the Unknowns), the Arlington Memorial Ampitheater, the Netherland Carillon, The USS Maine Memorial, and the Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the site dedicated to those who have fallen in war but have never had their remains identified. Buried there are the Unknown Soldiers of World War I, World War II, The Korean War, and The Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War, who was later disinterred when he was identified as Michael J. Blassie.

Situated across from the Potomac River, the Arlington National Cemetery is visited by four million people annually. Access to the cemetery is via two train stations, the Arlington Cemetery station and the Blue Line metro station.


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Post 5

When I was a teenager, our family took a summer vacation to the east coast and visited many historical places. We took part in an Arlington National Cemetery tour, and even as a teenager I remember being in awe at the vast number of graves there were.

I still remember what it looks like and how grateful I am for the people that have lost their lives serving and protecting their country.

Post 4

@chrisinbama: I consider everyone who served for our country to be famous in my eyes. Here are a few of the famous names that you might recognize that are buried there:

President William H. Taft, President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, U.S. Supreme Court Justices Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun and Potter Stewart, U.S. Attorney General and U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and many, many others.

There are approximately 28 burials there every day.

Post 3

Who are some famous people that are buried at Arlington National Cemetery?

Post 2

@purplespark: An active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, retired active military, retired from the Armed Forces Reserves by age 60 and drawing retirement pay, veterans who were honorably discharged before October 1, 1949 for medical reasons and who were rated 30% or more disabled, and the President or former president of the United States.

Some more requirements are:

Veterans who were awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star, Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Cross, Air Force Cross or Navy Cross, or the Medal of Honor. Also, former POW’s who were actively and honorably serving during their capture, and the widow, or widowers or minor of an active duty or veteran member of the Armed Forces.

These are just some of the requirements.

Post 1

What are the requirements for being buried at Arlington national Cemetery?

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