A Rainy Christmas Eve – My Trip to the Arlington National Cemetery

My company‘s Care Committee donated almost 30,000 Christmas wreaths to the Arlington National Cemetery and I originally volunteered to help set things up a few weekends back, but the event was cancelled due to the inclement weather (freezing rain).

This time I’ve finally had some time to drive up to take some pictures of the wreaths but of course it was pouring that day.

This is why you pay more for weather sealed/proof  gear like the amazing Peak Design Everyday Backpack and my Sony A7II.

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

I was surprised how many tourists there were (in the pouring rain no less) at this historic location, but I’ve noticed a handful of people were visiting their relatives that died and paying their respects.

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

You can barely make out the Lincoln Memorial in the foggy background.

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

Major General Philip Kearny

United States Army officer, notable for his leadership in the Mexican-American War and American Civil War. He was killed in action in the 1862 Battle of Chantilly.

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

JFK’s Tomb

In March of 1963, on a visit to Arlington, Kennedy made his first and only visit to the Lee Mansion. As a history buff, the president was well versed in the history of the mansion and the grounds, relishing the opportunity to spend time in the room where Robert E. Lee penned his resignation from the U.S. Army. Moments later, the president would be staring out across the cemetery and the city, enjoying the view. It’s at this moment that he said “I could spend forever here.”

After Kennedy’s assassination, Jacqueline Kennedy, made the difficult decision to have her husband buried here, as opposed to in his home state of Massachusetts. She simply stated that “he belongs to the people” and should be buried in a place where the people of the nation would be able to come and mourn their slain President.

On November 25, 1963 at 3:00 pm, the state funeral for President Kennedy began. As mourners gathered around the gravesite, 50 Navy and Air Force jets flew overhead while Air Force One, the President’s private plane, dipped it’s wing during the flyover as a final tribute. After Jackie Kennedy was given the American flag that draped her husband’s casket, she used a torch to light the Eternal Flame.  As you walk up to the Kennedy Gravesite, you will see four gravemarkers – President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (she later remarried but chose to be buried her with her first husband) as well as two smaller stones. These are two children who preceded President Kennedy in death – a boy, Patrick, and an unnamed stillborn girl.

The Eternal Flame that you see at the grave site burns 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, reminding us of Kennedy’s unyielding legacy.

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

Civil War Tomb of Unknowns

Below the cenotaph (pictured above), lie the remains of 2111 unknown soldiers, gathered from battlefields throughout northern Virginia. Since all of the remains contained within the tomb came from unidentified soldiers, Confederate and Union dead are mixed.

A short walk past the Old Memorial Amphitheater was the famous Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

Memorial Amphitheater

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

Old Guard

Since 1937, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Since 1948, that responsibility has fallen on the shoulders of a special platoon within the U.S. Army’s Third U.S. Infantry Division, known as the Old Guard. To become a Tomb Guard is a highly selective process.

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

As you walk up to the Tomb, you will notice that it is currently being guarded. The Tomb Guard will follow a very specific pattern of movement – 21 steps across the mat with a pause for 21 seconds. Then 21 steps across the mat and another pause for 21 seconds.

The number 21 was selected because it reflects the highest military honor that can be bestowed – the 21 gun salute.

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

Visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was worth the trip alone and it’s a solemn reminder that the men and women fighting for our freedom should not be taken for granted.

Hope you guys enjoyed the pictures and Merry Christmas everyone.

Photo by Tae Kim @ www.cosmotographer.com

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