Friday, July 4, 2014

Arlington National Cemetery & Changing of the Guard: Washington, DC

Happy 4th of July!  Today I'm celebrating our country's independence on the Cape with family and friends.  We'll be eating, drinking and enjoying fireworks (and hopefully s'mores) while remembering what this day really stands for.  I'm so thankful for where I live and the freedoms I have.  Remembering that especially today!

Today in honor of Independence Day I thought I would share the last of my DC Vacation photos from when I visited Rachel in April.  One afternoon my college friend, Meredith, and I hung out and we visited Arlington National Cemetery to see the Changing of the Guard.

Arlington National Cemetery was established June 15, 1864.  To read the full history of how the land became the first military cemetery go here.  It is very interesting but rather long to paraphrase here.  They perform over 27 funeral services each day and over 300,000 people from the USA and 11 other countries are buried there.  Over 4 million people visit annually.

We visited JFK's grave and his family member's graves.  Did you know that only 2 other Presidents are buried outside of their native states - Wilson and Taft.  When JFK first died it was assumed that he would be buried in Brookline, MA but Jackie chose for his funeral and burial place to be in DC stating "He belongs to the people." Also this site is not the original gravesite.  He (and his two children) was moved in 1967 due to the large numbers of visitors.  If you are interested in reading more about this go here.  I didn't know any of this before and it is all very interesting. 

After that we made the hike (yes hike - it is a long walk) to the Tomb of the Unknowns originally known as the Tomb of the Unknown Solider but unofficially changed when additional servicemen were later buried there.  Did you know more than one person was buried there?  Mind blown!  I had NO IDEA!  There are actually 3 - one from WWI, one from WWII and one from Korea.  There was one from Vietnam which was later identified and relocated by the family.  One unknown from each war was chosen to be buried here to represent/honor all of the unknowns.  I never knew this either and I think this is an incredible tribute to all those who died and were unable to be identified.

The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in all types of weather.  The Sentinels who guard are all volunteers!  Again, mind blown!  Who knew?  To read more about how they are selected go here.  It is really interesting.

The ritual of this ceremony is simply amazing.  To think that this has been done the same way for so many years all to honor those servicemen "Known But to God" is really incredible and just goes to show how much we as a country really do honor our military.  It really is like nothing else I've ever seen/experienced (even though I had seen it in 5th grade I didn't remember).  I highly recommend going to the Changing of the Guard if you are ever visiting DC. 

Arlington National Cemetery is beautiful.  It is such a peaceful place despite all the people who are visiting at the same time.  It is huge and I would recommend paying for the tram.  We didn't realize how far of a walk it would be and we were exhausted (especially since it was a warm day)!

Have you been to Changing of the Guard?  What did you think?  Please tell me I'm not the only one who didn't know some of the fun facts I shared in this post! 


  1. You got some great photos! I really enjoyed experiencing the changing of the guard, one of the best things I did in DC.

    I hope you're having a great 4th weekend!

  2. Arlington was so beautiful and deeply moving. I didn't know all those facts either. The changing of the guards is just amazing, especially since they volunteer and stay in all types of weather. It is a totally must see when going to D.C.

  3. I would love to see that for myself someday. You got some really great shots!

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