A Memorial Day Tribute to Arlington National Cemetery and Those Brave Heroes that are Buried There

We have all heard the saying a million times, but it’s those brave service members that have lost their lives defending our proud nation that know it best; “the price of freedom is not free.” There are maybe no truer words that were ever spoken. In accordance with a long standing tradition, the president gave a stirring speech from Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. I thought it would be a fitting time to talk about how this beautiful 150 year old facility came to be the final resting place of those brave souls that gave so selflessly for their country in every war the USA has fought since the revolutionary war.

Interestingly enough, the ground that the cemetery now occupies once belonged to Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s wife. In an ironic twist, after the south declared succession from the union in 1861, the site was seized by Union troops from Mary Anna Custis Lee because it offered a good vantage point and clear line of site for artillery to defend the capitol from an attack.

Unknown SoldierHow did the site come to be a national cemetery? That was actually something that happened by chance. Although no Confederate army got close to the capitol itself, there were still several hospitals in the area that treated the wounded from both the Confederate and Union Armies. As the injured on both sides eventually succumbed to their wounds, the hospitals were quickly running out of room to bury the dead. Because of its size and proximity to Washington, and the fact there were fortifications already there, this became an easy choice of where to bury the dead (some say it was also done out of spite to make sure the Lee’s would never reclaim the land).

Now that you know how the area became our nation’s biggest cemetery, like many people, you are probably surprised there are Confederate soldiers buried there too. Union soldier Private William Henry Christman from Pennsylvania had the honor of being the first soldier buried there in 1864; he died not from combat, but from disease which was all too common during the civil war. Since then, it has become the final resting place for over 400,000 sailors, soldiers, Marines, airmen and their families. There are also two presidents that have been buried there, as well as some of the people that died in the 9/11 terrorist attack on the Pentagon and the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

The Army’s 3rd Infantry (known as the “Old Guard” at Arlington) has been tasked with handling the honor and burial ceremonies at the facility since 1784. The next time you are in the Washington, DC area, try to take a little time out of your day to go see this magnificent and time honored monument to our fallen heroes. While you are there, make sure you take a second to reflect on the huge sacrifice that those who lie there made and thank them for the God given freedom we enjoy, that they so selflessly helped to protect.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Craig Smith

Craig has been writing for several years but just recently made freelance writing a full time profession after leaving behind 26 years working in the swimming pool construction industry. He served four years in the US Air Force as an Imagery Interpreter Specialist in Okinawa, Japan and at SAC Headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska. As a staunch supporter of law enforcement personnel, emergency medical technicians, firemen, search and rescue personnel and those who serve in the military, Craig is proud to contribute to the US Patriot blog on their behalf.
Craig Smith
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