Thursday, May 18, 2017

Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery didn't start out to be a cemetery. The 1,100 acre plantation was inherited by George Washington Parke Custis from his grandmother, Martha (Dandridge Custis) Washington in 1802. He is the boy in red in the Washington Family portrait above.

The view from the home sweeps down across the Potomac all the way to the Washington Monument. Custis modeled the home on a Greek temple and displayed military treasures from his step-grandfather, whom he revered.

His daughter married a young lieutenant named Robert E. Lee, and when Custis died in 1857, Lee took over the management of the estate. Custis' will dictated that the estate's slaves would be emancipated by 1862, so Lee carried out his father-in-law's wishes.

With the coming of the Civil War, Lee accepted command of Virginia's forces, the family left Arlington, and the Union Army took over the estate as headquarters, camp, and eventually a place to bury the casualties. The first burial occured in 1864. Below is a view of Arlington House from the Kennedy plot.
We attended the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and also witnessed the presentation of a wreath accompanied by "Taps" on a lone bugle.

I really enjoyed our visit to Arlington, not just for the history, but also because it is beautifully landscaped, immaculately maintained, and many of the plants have identification markers which increased my knowledge of eastern plants and trees.

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