Arlington, what a humbling experience. Seeing the thousands of rows of gravestones of those brave men and women that died in service for our country puts everything at a different perspective.
Arlington is just outside of Washington DC, so close, you can actually see it from the city. You can also walk across the bridge from the Lincoln Monument if you don’t want to drive.
As soon as we got there, we spent money to go on a tour of the cemetery. It was $50 for five us. I don’t recommend spending all of this money for the tour. The pluses of the tour was being able to ride on a trolley and having a guide on the buses give information. But we could have walked and the buses barely ever came at the stops. We would always find ourselves behind a school group and then the bus would be full. I recommend going to the visitors shop, getting a map and exploring your self!
Travel Tip: Skip the lines and get the Arlington Cemetery App for a self guided tour.
The first stop on the tour was the Eternal Flame. This is presidents, John F Kennedy’s tomb. In remembrance of him there is a flame that burns 24×7 above his grave. Trust me, its flaming but the pictures don’t do it justice.
We wanted to get a bus to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier but of course they just left and wouldn’t come for another 30 minutes. So we walked. The tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a monument for all soldiers killed in any war that we can’t identify. A soldier in the US army guards the tomb. Every single hour there is the changing of the guard open for the public. Here’s cool trivia about the dedication of the men guarding the tomb… they guard 24/7, but occasionally there is such bad weather, they are allowed to leave. But some choose to stay. They didn’t even leave during 9/11 when the Pentagon (with-in eyesight) was attacked! They are dedicated to serve and protect.
Next hike was to the top of the hill where General Lee’s mansion is. Arlington used to be the property of the Lee family until the North took it over. When the war ended the North started to bury their dead on the property so Lee wouldn’t want to live there anymore. The Lee house is still there and anyone can take a quick walk through. On the top of the mountain has the best views of DC! Make sure to stop for a photo.
The famous Iwa Jima memorial is right outside of the cemetery.
Fun fact: there is an extra hand reaching to the flag to symbolize the hand of God. Make sure to stop there for a pic and find the extra hand!
At the end of the tour, when we were exiting the bus, we all gor a Remembrance Poppy to be reminded of the sacrifices of our veterans. This came from a WWII poem called “In Flanders’ Field”. Here is an excerpt.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
I also had a chance to see more poppies when I was at the Tower of London when there were as many poppies at there were wounded and dead in WWI.
Hope you enjoyed this post! More DC posts coming soon but in the mean time you can catch up on the others!