Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington, VA 22211, USA

The Arlington National Cemetery is a 625-acre cemetery where fallen veterans have been laid to rest since the American Civil War. The cemetery lies at the end of Memorial Bridge, across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Wandering among the hundreds of thousands of white headstones is a solemn experience that forces visitors to reflect on the stories and dedication behind each service person. Paid bus tours that depart from the Welcome Center are available for visitors seeking to discover the grounds’ rich history. Stops include the Arlington House, Kennedy grave sites, and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where the changing of the guard ritual occurs every hour, on the hour. Those who want to explore the grounds at their own pace or desire to locate a specific grave can download the cemetery’s free ANC Explorer app.

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Royal Encounter at the Eternal Flame

Each year, more than 4.5 million visitors flock over to the Eternal Flame at Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place of 35th U.S. President John F. Kennedy, making it the most visited gravesite in the United States. This November 2013 will mark the 50th anniversary of his passing. During the first week of May, I toured a student group through the cemetery. As we made our way to the Eternal Flame, we noticed the walkway was cordoned off. The next moment, we all saw Prince Harry making his way up the steps to pay his respects to the youngest elected President and his family. This was all part of of his second trip to the United States with a 2 day visit in the Washington, D.C.area. We would then encounter him again laying a memorial wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

On Hallowed Ground

Since 1864, the 624-acre national cemetery has been the final resting place for more than 400,000 American military personnel from the American Revolution to the present day. A number of notable Americans are buried here, including presidents John F. Kennedy and William Howard Taft, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Robert Kennedy, Ted Kennedy, and D.C. city designer Pierre L’Enfant. More than 4.5 million people visit each year to attend funeral services and special ceremonies that pay respect to veterans and historic figures. Feel free to walk the grounds on your own or pay for the narrated shuttle bus tours that begin at the visitors’ center. Photography is permitted throughout the cemetery, but should you encounter a funeral service or procession, refrain from taking pictures.

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