Friday, September 2, 2011

Where is Arlington National Cemetery?

Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna (Custis) Lee, a great grand-daughter of Martha Washington. The cemetery is situated directly across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.. It is served by the Arlington Cemetery station on the Blue Line of the Washington Metro system.

In an area of 624 acres (2.53 km2), veterans and military casualties from each of the nation's wars are interred in the cemetery, ranging from the American Civil War through to the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.

Arlington National Cemetery and United States Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery are administered by the Department of the Army. The other national cemeteries are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs or by the National Park Service. Arlington House (Custis-Lee Mansion) and its grounds are administered by the National Park Service as a memorial to Lee.

What's at Arlington?
Tomb of the Unknowns

The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery is also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It stands on top of a hill overlooking Washington, D.C.

One of the most visited sites at the Cemetery, the tomb is made from Yule marble quarried in Colorado. It consists of seven pieces, with a total weight of 79 short tons (72 metric tons). The tomb was completed and opened to the public April 9, 1932, at a cost of $48,000.

It was initially named the "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier." Other unknown servicemen were later entombed there, and it became known as the "Tomb of the Unknowns", though it has never been officially named. The soldiers entombed there are:

--Unknown Soldier of World War I, interred November 11, 1921. President Warren G. Harding presided.
--Unknown Soldier of World War II, interred May 30, 1958. President Dwight D. Eisenhower presided.
--Unknown Soldier of the Korean War, also interred May 30, 1958. President Dwight Eisenhower presided again, Vice President Richard Nixon acted as next of kin.
--Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War, interred May 28, 1984. President Ronald Reagan presided. The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred, under the authority of President Bill Clinton, on May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie, whose family had him reinterred near their home in St. Louis, Missouri.

It has been determined that the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain empty.

The Tomb of the Unknowns has been perpetually guarded since July 2, 1937, by the U.S. Army. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") began guarding the Tomb April 6, 1948.

Arlington Memorial Amphitheater
The Tomb of the Unknowns is part of the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater. The Memorial Amphitheater has hosted state funerals and Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies. Ceremonies are also held for Easter. About 5,000 people attend these holiday ceremonies each year. 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 soldiers. Congress authorized the structure March 4, 1913. Woodrow Wilson laid the cornerstone for the building on October 15, 1915. The cornerstone contained 15 items including a Bible and a copy of the Constitution.

Before the Arlington Memorial Amphitheater was completed in 1921, important ceremonies were held at what is now known as the "Old Amphitheater." This structure sits where Robert E. Lee once had his gardens. The amphitheater was built in 1868 under the direction of General John A. Logan. Gen. James A. Garfield was the featured speaker at the Decoration Day dedication ceremony, May 30, 1868. The amphitheater has an encircling colonnade with a latticed roof that once supported a web of vines. The amphitheater has a marble dais, known as "the rostrum", which is inscribed with the U.S. national motto found on the Great Seal of the United States, E pluribus unum ("Out of many, one"). The amphitheater seats 1,500 people and has hosted speakers such as William Jennings Bryan.

From the Detroit News: Korean War vet buried in Arlington, 60 years later

Arlington, Va. — After six decades of mystery, a Detroiter who died during the Korean War was buried here Thursday at Arlington National Cemetery just south of the nation's capital.

Under warm, sunny skies, a chaplain laid 27-year-old Army Cpl. A.V. Scott to rest and presented a flag from the casket to Scott's half-brother Rudy Caldwell.

The mystery of Scott's remains stretched more than six decades from his capture Feb. 12, 1951.

He was delivering supplies to coalition troops east of the South Korean capital of Seoul when Chinese soldiers attacked and captured him.

Scott was forced to march to a prisoner-of-war camp in North Korea, where fellow prisoners said he died in April of that year.

After decades of refusal, North Korea's notoriously secretive authoritarian government returned remains from that camp and other sites throughout the country to the United States between 1991 and 1994. As part of the Department of Defense's efforts to identify returned remains and bury the dead, forensic experts were able to use DNA and dental matches to confirm Scott's remains.

Scott, a native of Canada who moved to Detroit with his mother, Gladys Caldwell, survived a grueling march after his capture in 1951, defense officials have told his family. But he died of exhaustion and dysentery shortly after arriving in a prisoner of war camp.

His family was told he was missing in 1951, and then two years later that he had died. For nearly six decades afterward, no more information was available.

The Pentagon positively identified Scott's remains in June. At the time, Rudy Caldwell, 70, told The Detroit News that learning Scott's fate would have comforted his mother, who died in 1996 without knowing how the serviceman died.

"She didn't talk about him a lot," said Caldwell. "It really bothered her. It tore her apart."

Scott's remains were among hundreds turned over by the North Koreans. More than 2,000 POWs died during the war; nearly 8,000 servicemen remain missing from the conflict.

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