Trip to Arlington Cemetery Memorial Day Weekend
On Friday afternoon I really thought that our project would not get done and I would need to go to work and wrap things up on Saturday. Well somehow we were able finish up Friday night so when I woke up Saturday morning to an empty house I decided to down to D.C. I was not really sure why I chose to drive to Arlington Cemetery but I almost felt compelled to visit. It must be at least 15 years since I last visited but as a child growing up my father used to take me there to see the changing of the guard annually.
The Arlington House was built in 1802 by the adopted son of George Washington, George Washington Parke Custis. His daughter Marie Anna who married Robert E Lee resided there from 1831 through 1861. Shortly after General Lee took command of the confederate troops the union army confiscated the property and turned Arlington House into a military headquarters and a camp. From what I understand the real reason was due to Mary Lee owing $90 in taxes but instead of appearing in court she sent a representative and that was the reason the property was seized.
It takes a special person that is willing to leave their loved ones to serve their country. It is very unselfish act and yes I understand that a few people may have been drafted but that does not mean they did not serve with dignity and honor. These men and women fought for something greater than themselves and were willing to give their lives for. One of the graves I came across was of John Clem who joined the Union Army at the age of 12. I was dumbfounded thinking about a child that age going off to war. He lived until he apparently was 85 years old but still enlisting at the age of 12 is just beyond me. Looking back I realize that each night last week I found myself watching the history channel specials on WWII. It’s hard to imagine that 60 million people died during the six years that WWII lasted. It is hard to imagine how many families lived in fear waiting for their loved ones to return home. What I did not realize until recently is that the Russians and the Chinese ended up with the most civilian and military deaths. Those two countries combined for more than 60% of the 60 million that died. I was only at Arlington Cemetery for two and half hours and probably only visited a quarter of the grounds so I plan on going back with the family in the fall.
Arlington Cemetery sits across the Potomac directly across from Washington D.C. and the Pentagon is a close neighbor. The cemetery sits on 624 acres and there are more than 300,000 people buried there. Arlington Cemetery is also the oldest military burial ground in the US. The first person to be buried there was Army private William Christman in 1864. The cemetery turned 150 years old this year and while there I found out that Arlington cemetery is the only national cemetery that has soldiers buried there from every war in U.S history. There are also over 3,500 slaves buried on the property in section 27. If you plan on visiting the D.C area I would have to say that visiting this cemetery should be on your agenda. Lastly to all of our service men and women, thank you!