“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine
I have found my love for traveling has transcended into my children to where they don't mind hopping in a car for over 20 hours to a destination that holds unknown memories for them. I have found some of the best trips involved little preparation and more just sheer spontaneity to create the most fun. Whether a trip is set for a purpose such as educational, it does not have to be stuffy, boring or dreary because in my opinion, everywhere I have traveled has been a learning experience. When this trip was spur of the moment planned, I couldn't think of any better way to explain some of our country's heritage with the sacrifices our men and women partook along the way in the military. Arlington National Cemetery is an experience both from a profound emotional level but also from the ability to see such beauty in an area that often involved great tragedy.
It proved to be a wonderful homeschooling lesson.
As many know, Arlington is a United States Military cemetery that sits across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Orginially, George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of George and Martha Washington acquired the property and build what was to become Arlington House. Mary Anna Custis, George's daughter, married United States Army Officer Robert E. Lee and eventually for life inherited the Arlington House. Robert and Mary's son inherited the property. In 1864, faced with a shortage of property to bury the mass causalities from the Battle of the Wilderness among prior battles, Quartermaster General Montgomery C. Miggs ordered an assessment and Arlington House was the most likely candidate. The first military burial was on May 13, 1864.
Arlington Memorial Amphitheater
The famous Tomb of the Unknowns is part of this feature within the cemetery. The structure is mostly built of Imperial Danby marble from Vermont. The Memorial Display room, between the amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknowns, uses Botticino stone, imported from Italy. The amphitheater was the result of a campaign by Ivory Kimball to construct a place to honor America's servicemen/women. Congress authorized the structure on March 4, 1913. Woodrow Wilsonlaid the cornerstone for the building on October 15, 1915. The cornerstone contained 15 items including a Bible and a copy of the Constitution [Wiki].
|Field Marshal Sir John Greer Dill GCB, CMG, DSO was a senior British Army officer with service in both the First World War and the Second World War is among those buried at Arlington.|
The Tomb of the Unknowns contains unknown soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and had an unknown soldier from Vietnam until the identity was determined and was removed to be returned to his family by order of President Bill Clinton.
Tomb of the Unknown Ceremony
The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded by the US Army since July 2, 1937. The Old Guard also known as the the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") began guarding the Tomb on April 6, 1948. The exact routine includes:
- Marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb.
- Turns, faces east for 21 seconds.
- Turns and faces north for 21 seconds.
- Takes 21 steps down the mat.
- Repeats the routine until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard.
After each turn, the Guard executes a sharp "shoulder-arms" movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the Guard stands between the Tomb and any possible threat.
Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed—the 21-gun salute.
Each turn the guard makes precise movements and followed by a loud click of the heels as he snaps them together. The guard is changed every half hour during daylight in the summer, and every hour during daylight in the winter and every two hours at night (when the cemetery is closed to the public), regardless of weather conditions. [Wiki]
There are several other memorials on the grounds of Arlington. Unfortunately, we didn't get to visit each of them but the trip was a must see for anyone.