Appreciating all that makes America special

Americana: Arlington National Cemetery

For Memorial Day, U.S. soldiers place American Flags on each gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery, some 260,000 in all, in a ceremony called Flags In. Uploaded by

In these 624 Virginia acres are all the reasons you’ll ever need to be thankful to be an American. Here you’ll find the memorial to those who’ve sacrificed their lives for our country, from the American Civil War to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The most meaningful verse of “America the Beautiful” puts it this way: “O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife. Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life.”

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Among the thousands of gravestones at Arlington are a number of specific memorials. Most famous of these is the Tomb of the Unknowns, symbolically honoring all those who died and whose remains were never identified. Other memorials are dedicated to those who died on the space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, Pierre L’Enfant (the designer of Washington, DC), the victims of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, the victims of the September 11 attack on the Pentagon, and women who served in the military.

About 27-30 funerals are conducted at Arlington each day, some 6,900 each year. The total number of people interred at Arlington totals just under 300,000. Among the military notables buried at Arlington are Gregory “Pappy” Boyington, Omar Bradley, William “Wild Bill” Donovan, Abner Doubleday (who was a Civil War general), William “Bull” Halsey, Audie Murphy, Francis Gary Powers, Hyman Rickover, Philip Sheridan, and John J. Pershing.

One of the most touching and meaningful activities each year at Arlington is the Memorial week tradition called “Flags In.” During an approximately three-hour period, members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry place flags in front of more than 260,000 gravestones. This military unit, known as “The Old Guard,” then stands guard throughout the Memorial Day weekend to ensure that a flag remains at each gravestone…


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