Arlington National Cemetery

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    Overview and Visitor Information

    Sunrise at Arlington National Cemetery
    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

    More than 300,000 people are buried at Arlington National Cemetery, including veterans from the American Revolution up to the present. In addition to in-ground burial, Arlington National Cemetery has a large columbarium with over 38,500 niches for cremated remains. Future plans provide for over 60,000 niches with capacity for more than 100,000 remains.

    Approximately 6,400 burials are conducted annually with an average of 28 a day, including interments and inurnments. While there are some restrictions for in-ground burial, any honorably discharged veteran is eligible for inurnment in the columbarium.

    Arlington National Cemetery receives more than four million visitors each year. Whether paying tribute to a lost family member or friend or taking a journey through history, a visit to the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery is a powerful and memorable experience.

    Admission and Hours

    Admission to Arlington National Cemetery is free and open to the public everyday of the year:

    • April 1 - September 30 from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m.
    • October 1 - March 31 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
    Arlington National Cemetery is one of only two national cemeteries maintained by the Department of the Army. Welcome signs remind visitors that they are on hallowed grounds and request respectful and dignified conduct at all times. The cemetery does not provide wheelchairs or strollers. Visitors who require these services must bring their own equipment.

    Next Page - Location and Transportation
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    Location and Transportation

    Government issued headstones, looking east with the Washington Monument in the background
    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery
    Location: Arlington National Cemetery is located across the Memorial Bridge from Washington, D.C., on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. With the Lincoln Memorial on the Washington, D.C. side and the Robert E. Lee Memorial at Arlington House on the Virginia side, the Memorial Bridge was designed to symbolize the joining together of the North and the South. The cemetery entrance actually begins near the Lincoln Memorial on the Washington side of the bridge and extends across the Potomac River.

    Memorial Drive, which is intersected by the George Washington Memorial Parkway at a circular traffic rotary, connects the bridge on the Virginia side to the cemetery gates. Memorial Drive, ends at the entry court, which is now the Women's Memorial. Ample paid visitor parking at reasonable rates is accessible from Memorial Drive.

    By Metrorail

    The Arlington National Cemetery Station is located on the Metropolitan Washington D.C. Area Metrorail's Blue Line - during all hours the cemetery is open

    Arlington National Cemetery Tours

    ANC Tours by Martz Gray Line provides an interpretative tour bus service through Arlington National Cemetery. Stops include the Kennedy gravesites, the Tomb of the Unknowns Changing of the Guard and Arlington House Robert E. Lee Memorial. Tours depart continuously from the cemetery's Visitors Center as follows:
    • April through September - 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
    • October through March - 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    For more information about the tours and pricing details, visit ANC Tours by Martz Gray Line website.

    Next Page - Annual Ceremonies

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    Easter, Memorial Day and Veterans Day Services

    Sunrise Easter Service at the Amphitheater
    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery
    Easter, Memorial Day and Veterans Day Services: Three major memorial services, sponsored by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington, are held each year in the Arlington National Cemetery Amphitheater. Approximately 5,000 visitors attend each of these services, which are open to the public.

    • Easter Sunrise Service
      See Details for the 2014 Easter Service

    • Memorial Day Service at 11 a.m. Also see information about Flags-in at Arlington National Cemetery during the Memorial Day weekend.
      See Details for the 2014 Memorial Day Ceremony

    • Veterans Day Service at 11 a.m.
      See Details for the 2013 Veterans Day Ceremony
    In addition to these public services, several other memorial services, conducted by various military organizations, take place throughout the year.

    Next Page - The Memorial Amphitheater

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    The Memorial Amphitheater

    Aerial View of the Amphitheater
    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

    The dream of Judge Ivory G. Kimball, the Memorial Amphitheater was dedicated on May 15, 1920 to provide a place of assembly for the purpose of paying tribute to American defenders. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on March 1, 1915.

    Constructed primarily of Vermont-quarried Danby marble, the Amphitheater houses a small chapel underneath the stage. Judge Kimball, who died in 1916 before the construction was completed, is buried in Section 3 near the Amphitheater.

    The Cornerstone

    On October 15, 1915, President Woodrow Wilson placed the cornerstone, which contained the following items:

    • The Bible
    • The Declaration of Independence
    • The Constitution of the United States
    • A 1915 U.S. Flag
    • The amphitheater designs and plans
    • L'Enfant's map design of the city of Washington, D.C.
    • An autograph of the amphitheater commission
    • One of each of the U.S. coins in use in 1915
    • One of each of the U.S. postage stamps in use in 1915
    • A 1914 map of Washington, D.C.
    • The Congressional Directory
    • Boyd's City Directory for the District of Columbia
    • An autographed photograph of President Woodrow Wilson
    • The cornerstone dedication program
    • The Evening Star newspaper account of the ceremonies, and the campaign to build the Amphitheater
    Next Page - Tomb of the Unknowns

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    Tomb of the Unknowns

    A sentinel salutes the Tomb of the Unknowns.
    Photo by Kimberly Nguyen: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

    Since opening on April 9, 1932, the Tomb of the Unknowns, also called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, has been one of the most visited sites at Arlington Cemetery. It contains four graves:

    • The Unknown of World War I: Interred November 11, 1921 in a ceremony presided by President Harding.

    • The Unknown of World War II: Interred May 30, 1958 in a ceremony presided by President Eisenhower.

    • The Unknown of the Korean War: Interred May 30, 1958 in a ceremony presided by President Eisenhower.

    • The Unknown of the Vietnam War: Interred May 28, 1984 in a ceremony presided by President Reagan. Subsequently, the remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred and identified. At the request of the family, he was re-interred close to their home. It has been decided that the Vietnam Unknown crypt will remain empty.
    On April 6, 1948, the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry, known as "The Old Guard," began guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns. It is guarded around the clock each day of the year by volunteer Tomb Guard sentinels, who are considered to be the best of The Old Guard:
    • October 1 to March 31: The guard is changed every hour on the hour.
    • April 1 to September 30: The guard is changed twice per hour on the half-hour.
    U.S. Civil War Unknowns: Dedicated September 1866

    A monument near Arlington House marks the vault that contains remains of about 2111 unknown Confederate soldiers and Union troops. The remains were gathered from the battlefields of Bull Run and the route to the Rappahannock.

    Next Page - The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame

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    The John F. Kennedy Eternal Flame

    The Eternal Flame burns on over the grave of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.
    Photo by John Metzler, Jr.: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

    President John F. Kennedy was buried in Arlington National Cemetery on November 25, 1963. Within three years, more than 16 million people had visited his gravesite. To better accommodate the large number of visitors, cemetery officials and Kennedy family members decided to create a more suitable site. The final resting place was completed on July 20, 1967.

    The 3.2 acre site is located on the slope below Arlington House. For the gravesite, the family selected irregular Cape Cod granite paving stones, which had been quarried in 1817 from near the president's home. Clover and sedum were planted in the crevices to recall a natural Massachusetts field setting.

    At the wish of Mrs. Kennedy, an eternal flame, inspired by the one in Paris that marks the French Unknown Soldier, sits at the head of the grave.

    Shortly after the burial of President Kennedy, his two deceased children were reburied beside their father. Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was buried next to President Kennedy on May 23, 1994. The Kennedy gravesite remains one of the most visited memorials at Arlington National Cemetery.

    Robert F. Kennedy

    On June 8, 1968, Robert Kennedy was buried in a plot adjacent to President Kennedy's gravesite area. Because of a delay, the funeral service had to be postponed until late at night and 1500 candles were distributed to the mourners.

    Edward M. Kennedy

    On the evening of August 29, 2009, following a Funeral Mass earlier in the day in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Senator Edward M. Kennedy was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery next to his brothers in a private burial service.

    Next Page - Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial

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    Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial

    Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial Marker
    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

    A memorial marker in honor of the seven crew members of the Space Shuttle Challenger is located in Section 46 of Arlington National Cemetery. As people around the world watched in horror, the Challenger exploded into flames just after lift-off on January 28, 1986.

    Remains of all seven crew members, recovered from the ocean floor, are buried beneath the monument.

    Next Page - "Remember the Maine"

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    "Remember the Maine"

    The original mast of the
    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

    On February 15, 1898, the battleship Maine exploded in the Havana Harbor. Altogether 258 men lost their lives. "Remember the Maine" became the slogan for those in favor of war with Spain.

    The monument, dedicated on February 15, 1915, was designed to represent the turret of a battleship. The actual mast from the Maine rises above the granite base, which is inscribed with the names of all who died because of the disaster. The interior of the base is marble and tile.

    Next Page - Arlington House and Additional Arlington National Cemetery Resources

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    Arlington House and Additional Arlington National Cemetery Resources

    Memorial Drive entering Arlington National Cemetery
    Photo Credit: Courtesy of Arlington National Cemetery

    Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, unlike the surrounding cemetery, is administered by the National Park Service. First intended as a memorial to the first president, the estate has a fascinating history that is tied to the families of George Washington, Robert E. Lee and events of the Civil War. Open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Closed December 25 and January 1. Free.

    Additional Resources

    For additional information about Arlington National Cemetery, visit the following official websites:

    Arlington National Cemetery Official Web Site

    • Arlington National Cemetery Website Home Page
    • Funeral Information
    • Arlington National Cemetery Monuments and Memorials

    Next Page - Nearby Points of Interest
     

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    Nearby Points of Interest

    United States Marine Corps War Memorial - Iwo Jima Memorial
    Photo Credit: © 2006 George Alexander, licensed to About.com, Inc.

    When planning your visit to Arlington National Cemetery, you may wish to include some other nearby points of interest in your itinerary for the day:

    The United States Marine Corps War Memorial (pictured above), also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial, displays one of the most famous American statue and is located very close to Arlington National Cemetery. More About the USMC War Memorial

    The Women in Military Service for America Memorial is located just outside of Arlington National Cemetery at the ceremonial entrance. Administered by the Memorial Foundation, this award-winning memorial honors the more than two million women who have served in the U.S. armed forces, beginning with the American Revolution.

    Open 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. October 1 to March 31; 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. April 1 to September 30; Closed: Christmas Day. More About the Women in Military Service Memorial

    The United States Air Force Memorial honors the service and sacrifices of the millions of men and women who have served in the U.S. Air Force and its predecessor organizations. Dedicated in October 2006, it is located on a promontory overlooking the Pentagon and adjacent to Arlington Cemetery. More About the U.S. Air Force Memorial

    Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens is about a 20 minute drive from Arlington National Cemetery. Mount Vernon is open every day of the year, including holidays and Christmas. Mount Vernon Web Site

    Next Page - Return to Page 1: Introduction and Visitor Information