Friday, May 18, 2012

Day 40: Arlington National Cemetery

Our last outing before we left my dad and Gayle's was a trip to Arlington National Cemetery to visit the graves of my grandfather and grandmother.

This is a very solemn place but has a beauty to it.  There were several burials taking place while we were there. We overheard a tour guide saying that there were 20 funerals that day.

Changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown.
The inscription reads:
"Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God"
The ceremony was, again, solemn and beautiful, and very precise.

Before Arlington was a cemetery, it was a plantation that belonged to George Washington Parke Custis.  His father died when he was a newborn and he was raised by his grandparents, Martha and George Washington, at Mount Vernon.  Custis built Arlington House as his home and a memorial to George Washington.  The house contained many artifacts and belongings of Washington's.  The house was also home to Robert E. Lee, who married Custis' daughter, Mary Anna Randolph Custis.  Their wedding took place in this house in 1831.

The house sits at the highest point overlooking the cemetery and Washington DC across the Potomac.  The house was seized and used for perimeter defenses for DC when the Civil War broke out and also as a cemetery for Union soldiers.  The Custis and Lee families were evicted and never returned.  The story is tragic and fascinating.  Lee was against secession but wouldn't fight against his native Virginia so he made the decision to fight for the Confederates. Even though he fought for the South, after the war he became a hero to both sides because of the work he did for reconstruction. 

JFK's grave with Arlington House in the background.

Nearby is the Air Force Memorial...

We also visited the relatively new MLK Memorial ("out of the mountain of despair, a stone of hope")...

...and the Marine Corps Memorial, based on the iconic WWII photo of the Marines who raised the flag over Iwo Jima.  Of the six men in that photo, immortalized in this sculpture, three died at Iwo Jima.

Between checking out memorials and parks and museums and statues and gardens, we hung out with my dad and Gayle, who totally spoiled us...again! After a week, it was time for us to move on.

Thanks Dad and Gayle for a great visit!

No comments:

Post a Comment