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Arlington National Cemetery

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On 612 acres of serene landscaping, the Arlington National Cemetery was originally the land of  General Robert E. Lee. His family’s mansion, the Arlington House still stands today and displays memorabilia from the Lee family. It is also the gravesite of Pierre L’Enfant, one of the original designers of Washington D.C.

It is possible to trace the war history of America through the memorials and 250,000 soldiers buried at Arlington. Memorials include the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and The Tomb of the Unknowns. The Marine Corps War Memorial, known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, depicts the raising of the American Flag on Mount Suribachi during WWII.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is  where the unknown soldiers of both World Wars, Korea and Vietnam are interred. It is guarded 24-hours a day by the Amy’s U.S. 3rd Infantry. Each guard marches 21 steps and then faces the memorial for 21 seconds to symbolize a 21-gun salute. April 1 – Sept. 30 the guard is changed every half-hour in a precise ceremony that is worth seeing. Other times of the year the guard is changed every hour.

Arlington is also the site of the Kennedy Graves. JFK is buried here under an eternal flame. Near him are two of his children who died in infancy, wife Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis and brother Robert Kennedy.

Arlington is also home to the newest memorial in Washington. Just off the main ceremonial entrance is the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. This modern memorial has a 196-seat amphitheater and  a computerized registry of anecdotes, photos and records compiled from military women.

Visiting Arlington is a nice diversion from the city but even if you drive, touring the grounds involves lots of walking. Wear a comfortable pair of shoes and sunscreen if you plan on spending lots of time there.

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