Arlington Mansion and 200 acres of ground immediately surrounding it were designated officially as a military cemetery June 15, 1864, by Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. More than 300,000 people are buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Veterans from all the nation’s wars are buried in the cemetery, from the American Revolution through the Iraq and Afghanistan. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.
The federal government dedicated a model community for freed slaves, Freedman’s Village, near the current Memorial Amphitheater, Dec. 4, 1863.
More than 1,100 freed slaves were given land by the government, where they farmed and lived during and after the Civil War. They were turned out in 1890 when the estate was repurchased by the government and dedicated as a military installation.
In Section 27, are buried more than 3,800 former slaves, called “Contrabands” during the Civil War. Their headstones are designated with the word “Civilian” or “Citizen.” Arlington National Cemetery and Soldiers Home National Cemetery are administered by the Department of the Army.
All other National Cemeteries are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, or the National Park Service. Arlington House (Custis-Lee Mansion) and the grounds in its immediate vicinity are administered by the National Park Service.
The flags in Arlington National Cemetery are flown at half-staff from a half hour before the first funeral until a half hour after the last funeral each day.
Funerals are normally conducted five days a week, excluding weekends. Funerals, including interments and inurnments, average 28 a day.
With more than 300,000 people buried, Arlington National Cemetery has the second-largest number of people buried of any national cemetery in the United States.
Arlington National Cemetery conducts approximately 6,400 burials each year. The largest of the 130 national cemeteries is the Calverton National Cemetery, on Long Island, near Riverhead, N.Y. That cemetery conducts more than 7,000 burials each year.
The Tomb of the Unknowns is one of the more-visited sites at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Tomb is made from Yule marble quarried in Colorado.
It consists of seven pieces, with a total weight of 79 tons. The Tomb was completed and opened to the public April 9, 1932, at a cost of $48,000. Three unknown servicemen are buried at the Tomb of the Unknowns:
A joint-service casket team holds a U.S. flag outstretched above the casket bearing the remains of the Vietnam Unknown, while President Ronald Reagan places a wreath at the casket’s head during entombment ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. Unknown Soldier of World War I, interred Nov. 11, 1921. President Harding presided.
Unknown Soldier of World War II, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided. Unknown Soldier of the Korean Conflict, interred May 30, 1958. President Eisenhower presided, Vice President Nixon acted as next of kin.
An Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam Conflict, interred May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided.
The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt.
Michael J. Blassie, whose family has reinterred him near their home in St. Louis, Mo.
It has been determined that the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain empty.)
The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded by the U.S. Army 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) began guarding the Tomb April 6, 1948.
In addition to in-ground burial, Arlington National Cemetery also has one of the larger columbarium for cremated remains in the country. Seven courts are currently in use, with over 38,500 niches.
When construction is complete, there will be nine courts with a total of over 60,000 niches; capacity for more than 100,000 remains. Any honorably discharged veteran is eligible for inurnment in the columbarium.
Tomb of the Unknowns
The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., is also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and has never been officially named. The Tomb of the Unknowns stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater.
The white marble sarcophagus has a flat-faced form and is relieved at the corners and along the sides by neo-classic pilasters, or columns, set into the surface. Sculpted into the east panel which faces Washington, D.C., are three Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor.
The Tomb sarcophagus was placed above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War I. West of the World War I Unknown are the crypts of unknowns from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Those three graves are marked with white marble slabs flush with the plaza.
The Unknown of World War I
On Memorial Day, 1921, four unknowns were exhumed from four World War I American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat, highly decorated for valor and received the Distinguished Service Medal in “The Great War, the war to end all wars,” selected the Unknown Soldier of World War I from four identical caskets at the city hall in Chalons-sur-Marne, France, Oct. 24, 1921. Sgt. Younger selected the unknown by placing a spray of white roses on one of the caskets. He chose the third casket from the left. The chosen unknown soldier was transported to the United States aboard the USS Olympia. Those remaining were interred in the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, France.
The Unknown Soldier lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda from his arrival in the United States until Armistice Day, 1921. On Nov. 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery.
The Unknown of World War II and Korea
On Aug. 3, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to select and pay tribute to the unknowns of World War II and Korea. The selection ceremonies and the interment of these unknowns took place in 1958. The World War II Unknown was selected from remains exhumed from cemeteries in Europe, Africa, Hawaii and the Philippines.
Two unknowns from World War II, one from the European Theater and one from the Pacific Theater, were placed in identical caskets and taken aboard the USS Canberra, a guided-missile cruiser resting off the Virginia capes. Navy Hospitalman 1st Class William R. Charette, then the Navy’s only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, selected the Unknown Soldier of World War II. The remaining casket received a solemn burial at sea.
Four unknown Americans who died in the Korean War were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Army Master Sgt. Ned Lyle made the final selection. Both caskets arrived in Washington May 28, 1958, where they lay in the Capitol Rotunda until May 30. That morning, they were carried on caissons to Arlington National Cemetery. President Eisenhower awarded each the Medal of Honor, and the Unknowns were interred in the plaza beside their of World War I comrade.
The Unknown of Vietnam
The Unknown service member from the Vietnam War was designated by Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Jay Kellogg Jr. during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, May 17, 1984. The Vietnam Unknown was transported aboard the USS Brewton to Alameda Naval Base, Calif. The remains were sent to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., May 24. The Vietnam Unknown arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., the next day. Many Vietnam veterans and President and Mrs. Ronald Reagan visited the Vietnam Unknown in the U.S. Capitol. An Army caisson carried the Vietnam Unknown from the Capitol to the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided over the funeral, and presented the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown.
The president also acted as next of kin by accepting the interment flag at the end of the ceremony. The interment flags of all Unknowns at the Tomb of the Unknowns are on view in the Memorial Display Room. The Memorial Bridge leading from Washington, D.C., to Virginia is lined with a joint-service cordon as the remains of the Vietnam War Unknown are taken by motor escort to Arlington National Cemetery for interment in the Tomb of the Unknowns.
(The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were exhumed May 14, 1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, DoD scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie , who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. It has been decided that the crypt that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain vacant.)
Tomb Guards serve a position of great honor, and are generally recruited from Arlington’s Fort Myer. Each new sentinel is subject to rigorous physical requirements as well as a review of Arlington National Cemetery history and general military knowledge. The sentinel on duty takes 21 steps, turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, then retraces his steps. The number of steps and the length of the pause are representative of the highest military tribute, the 21-gun salute. During the daylight hours the change of the guard ceremony occurs on the hour in the winter months and on a 30-minute schedule during the summer.
The Marine Corps War Memorial
The Marine Corps War Memorial stands as a symbol of this grateful Nation’s esteem for the honored dead of the U.S. Marine Corps. While the statue depicts one of the most famous incidents of World War II, the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in the defense of the United States since 1775.
The 32-foot-high figures are shown erecting a 60-foot bronze flagpole from which a cloth flag flies 24 hours a day in accordance with Presidential proclamation of June 12, 1961. They occupy the same positions as in Rosenthal’s historic photograph.
Hayes is the figure farthest from the flag staff; Sousley to the right front of Hayes; Strank on Sousley’s left; Bradley in front of Sousley; Gagnon in front of Strank; and Block closest to the bottom of the flagstaff. The figures, placed on a rock slope, rise about 6 feet from a 10-foot base, making the memorial 78 feet high overall. The M-l rifle and the carbine carried by two of the figures are 16 and 12 feet long, respectively. The canteen would hold 32 quarts of water.
The base of the memorial is made of rough Swedish granite. Burnished in gold on the granite are the names and dates of every principal Marine Corps engagement since the founding of the Corps, as well as the inscription: “In honor and in memory of the men of the United States Marine Corps who have given their lives to their country since November 10, 1775.” Also inscribed on the base is the tribute of Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz to the fighting men on Iwo Jima: “Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue.”
Erection of the memorial, which was designed by Horace W. Peaslee, was begun in September 1954. It was officially dedicated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on November 10, 1954, the 179th anniversary of the U.S. Marine Corps.
On February 19, 1945, the United States Marines landed on the small but strategic volcanic island of Iwo Jima.
The U.S. sent more Marines to Iwo than to any other battle, 110,000 Marines in 880 ships. Resistance was intense and continued for 36 days.
An incredible 27 Medals of Honor were awarded for heroic actions on Iwo Jima, a measure of valor unprecedented in American military history. After intense fighting, at about 10:30 a.m. on February 23, 1945, men all over the tiny island were thrilled by the sight of a small American flag flying at the top of Mt. Suribachi.
That afternoon, when the slopes were clear of enemy resistance, five marines and a Navy hospital corpsman raised a second, larger flag.
The raising of that flag became the model for the memorial located just outside the northern entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.
While the statue depicts one of the most famous incidents of World War II, the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have given their lives in the defense of the United States since 1775.
The Memorial is situated at the North end of the National Cemetery in Arlington VA
The Memorial Amphitheater
The Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., was dedicated on May 15, 1920. While many ceremonies are conducted throughout the country, many consider the services at Arlington’s Memorial Amphitheater to be the nation’s official ceremonies to honor all American service members who serve to keep the United States free.
About 5,000 visitors attend each of the three major annual memorial services in the Amphitheater. They take place Easter, Memorial Day and Veterans Day and are sponsored by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. The Easter Sunrise Service begins at 6 a.m. Memorial Day and Veterans Day services always begin at 11 a.m. Many military organizations also conduct annual memorial services in the amphitheater.
The Memorial Amphitheater was the dream of Judge Ivory G. Kimball, who wished to have a place to assemble and honor the American defenders.
Because of Kimball’s campaign, Congress authorized its construction March 4, 1913. Judge Kimball participated in the ground-breaking ceremony March 1, 1915, but did not live to see his dream completed. Ivory Kimball died May 15, 1916, and was buried in Section 3 of the cemetery, near the Memorial Amphitheater he campaigned to build. President Woodrow Wilson placed its cornerstone Oct. 15, 1915.
One copy of the following items is sealed inside the box placed in the cornerstone that day:
The Declaration of Independence
The U.S. Constitution
U.S. Flag (1915)
Designs and plans for the amphitheater
L’Enfant’s map design of the city of Washington, D.C.
Autograph of the amphitheater commission
One of each U.S. coin in use in 1915
One of each U.S. postage stamp in use in 1915
1914 map of Washington, D.C.
The Congressional Directory
Boyd’s City Directory for the District of Columbia
Autographed photo of President Woodrow Wilson
The cornerstone dedication program
The Evening Star newspaper account of the ceremonies, and the campaign to build the Amphitheater
The Amphitheater is constructed mainly of Vermont-quarried Danby marble.
The marble in the Memorial Display Room is imported Botticino, a stone mined in Italy. The Memorial Display Room, between the amphitheater and the Tomb of the Unknowns, houses plaques and other tributes presented in honor of the four service members interred at the Tomb of the Unknowns (first known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier). A small chapel is beneath the Amphitheater stage.
The names of 44 U.S. battles from the American Revolution through the Spanish-American War are inscribed around the frieze above the colonnade. The names of 14 U.S. Army generals and 14 U.S. Navy admirals prior to World War I are inscribed on each side of the amphitheater stage.
“When we assumed the soldier we did not lay aside the citizen,” from then-Gen. George Washington’s June 26, 1775, letter to the Provincial Congress is inscribed inside the apse. “We here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain,” from President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is inscribed above the stage.
“DULCE ET DECORUM EST PRO PATRIA MORI,”
a quote from Horace’s Ode III, 2, 13 is etched above the west entrance of the Memorial Amphitheater.
Translated from the Latin:
“It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”
Women in Military Service for America Memorial
One of the most compelling memorials that documents women’s roles in the formation of our country is the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.
It is the only major national memorial honoring all women who have defended America throughout history. The Women’s Memorial recognizes all women who have served in or with the United States Armed Forces – past, present and future; it documents the experiences of these women and tells their stories of service, sacrifice and achievement; it makes their contributions a visible part of our history; it illustrates their partnership with men in defense of our nation; and it serves as inspiration for others.
Located at the Ceremonial Entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.
Space Shuttle Challenger Memorial
The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on Jan. 28, 1986, just seconds after take off, killing all seven crew members. It was nearly two months before the remains were recovered from the ocean floor, about 18 miles off the shore of Cape Canaveral.Early on the morning of May 20, 1986, the unidentified remains of all seven astronauts were buried near Scobee’s grave in Section 46.
Capt. Michael Smith, the pilot of the Challenger was buried in Section 7A, Grave 208, May 3, 1986. On May 19, 1986, Francis “Dick” Scobee’s cremated remains were interred in Section 46, Grave 1129.
Early on the morning of May 20, 1986, the unidentified remains of all seven astronauts were buried near Scobee’s grave in Section 46.
On June 12, 1986, the 99th Congress passed a concurrent resolution stating “the Secretary of the Army should construct and place in Arlington National Cemetery, a memorial marker honoring the seven members of the crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger.”
It was decided by family members and NASA to construct the monument over the cremated remains in Section 46.
Family members of the seven Challenger astronauts and approximately 400 people attended the dedication ceremony on the morning of March 21, 1987, including then Vice President and Mrs. George Bush.
President John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s Grave
John F. Kennedy made his first formal visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1961, to place a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns. At the conclusion of the ceremony President Kennedy spoke to more than 5,000 people gathered in the Memorial Amphitheater. President Kennedy’s address began; “We meet in quiet commemoration of a historic day of peace. In an age that threatens the survival of freedom, we join together to honor those who made our freedom possible. … It is a tragic fact, that war still more destructive and still sanguinary followed [World War II]; that man’s capacity to devise new ways of killing his fellow men have far outstripped his capacity to live in peace with his fellow man.”
Eleven days prior to Kennedy’s assassination he returned to Arlington for the 1963 Armistice Day services. This time he did not address the crowd in the amphitheater. On Nov. 22, 1963, while on a campaign trip to Dallas, President Kennedy was shot and killed. There are only two U.S. presidents buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The other is William Howard Taft, who died in 1930.
Though Kennedy is buried at Arlington, at the time of his death, many believed that he would be buried in Brookline, Mass. Woodrow Wilson was the only other president besides Taft who had been buried outside of his native state and in the National Capital Region. President Wilson is buried at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The Associated Press on Nov. 22, 1963, prematurely announced, “President Kennedy’s body will lie in state at the White House tomorrow. … There’s nothing definite yet on the funeral, but it’s understood it will be in Boston.” The New York Times announced later that day, “The president was expected to be buried at the Kennedy family plot in Holyhood Cemetery, near Brookline, Mass. He is a native of Boston.”
Kennedy’s brother-in-law and director of the Peace Corps, Sargent Shriver, arrived at the White House to make tentative arrangements for Kennedy’s funeral. However, nothing was definite until the wishes of Jacqueline Kennedy, the president’s widow, were known. Her wishes were stated simply, “He belongs to the people.”
Shriver prepared for all possibilities and had even contacted Jack Metzler Sr., superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery. Metzler informed Shriver that ample space was available in Arlington and that the cemetery would be ready to handle the funeral. The first formal statement from Mrs. Kennedy concerning the burial was to model her husband’s funeral after ceremonies rendered for Abraham Lincoln.
The research on President Lincoln’s funeral was done by Professor James Robertson, the executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission. He contacted David Mearns, the director of the Library of Congress. The two men went to the government repository where the lights were inoperative because they were connected to a timer switch and would only operate during the time the Library was scheduled to be opened. Using flashlights they found copies of Frank Leslie’s Illustrated and Harper’s Weekly which depicted the 1865 funeral in graphic detail. Using this information, the East Room of the White House was transformed to fit the description of the funeral almost a century earlier.
Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara felt that President Kennedy should be interred on federal property so that his grave would be accessible to the American people. McNamara contacted Metzler and wished to see potential burial plots for the president at ANC. Three plots were shown: one near the mast of the USS Maine, one at Dewey Circle, and the third on the slope below Arlington House (Custis-Lee mansion). The president’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, found the “Maine” location inappropriate and the “Dewey” location inaccessible; however, he believed that the slope below Arlington House was ideal. The final decision was Mrs. Kennedy’s. After arriving and viewing the gravesite below Arlington House, she nodded her approval.
McNamara and Robert F. Kennedy returned to Arlington to supervise the surveying of the area. The two men walked up the hill to Arlington House. While they were there, Park Service employee Paul Fugua recounted how on March 3 President Kennedy and Charlie Bartlett had made an impromptu Sunday visit to the Custis-Lee mansion. He went on to recall that after touring the house the president remarked that the view of Washington, D.C., was so magnificent that he could stay forever — a statement which seemed to confirm their selection of the grave site.
Mrs. Kennedy had expressed a desire to mark the president’s grave with an eternal flame similar to that of the French Unknown Soldier in Paris. The Washington Gas Company was contacted and a propane-fed torch was selected, as it could be safely lit during the funeral the following day. On Nov. 25, 1963, at 3 p.m., the state funeral of President Kennedy began. Earlier that day cemetery employees at Arlington, along with personnel from the Military District of Washington, conducted 23 funerals. All were conducted with appropriate dignity and military honors.
Among the mourners at Kennedy’s grave site were President Charles de Gaulle of France, Chancellor Ludwig Erhard of the Federal Republic of Germany, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia and Prince Philip of the United Kingdom. Overhead, 50 Navy and Air Force jets flew past the gravesite followed by the president’s plane, Air Force One, which dipped its wing in final tribute. A contingent of the Irish Guard stood opposite the grave, and the Archbishop of Boston, Richard Cardinal Cushing, performed a Roman Catholic committal service. The body bearers folded the interment flag, and Metzler presented it to Mrs. Kennedy. She and Robert Kennedy then used a torch to light the eternal flame.
On Dec. 4, 1963, the two deceased Kennedy children were reburied in Arlington, Patrick Bouvier Kennedy from Brookline — who had predeceased JFK by 15 weeks — and an unnamed stillborn daughter from Newport, R.I. The initial plot was 20 feet by 30 feet and was surrounded by a white picket fence. During the first year often more than 3,000 people an hour visited the Kennedy gravesite, and on weekends an estimated 50,000 people visited. Three years after Kennedy’s death, more than 16 million people had come to visit the Kennedy plot.
Because of the large crowds, cemetery officials and members of the Kennedy family decided that a more suitable site should be constructed. The architectural firm of John Warnecke and Associates was tasked to design and build the grave area. Construction began in 1965 and was completed July 20, 1967. During the period of construction, President Kennedy and his two deceased children were quietly reinterred to the permanent grave, and Archbishop Cushing formally blessed the new site in a private service, which was attended by Mrs. Kennedy, Senators Robert and Edward Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson.
The grave area is paved with irregular stones of Cape Cod granite, which were quarried around 1817 near the site of the president’s home and selected by members of his family. Clover, and later, sedum were planted in the crevices to give the appearance of stones lying naturally in a Massachusetts field. Lighted by Mrs. Kennedy during the funeral, the Eternal Flame burns from the center of a five-foot circular flat-granite stone at the head of the grave. The burner is a specially designed apparatus created by the Institute of Gas Technology of Chicago. A constantly flashing electric spark near the tip of the nozzle relights the gas should the flame be extinguished by rain, wind or accident. The fuel is natural gas and is mixed with a controlled quantity of air to achieve the color and shape of the flame.
The entire site, a total of 3.2 acres, was set aside by the secretary of the Army, with the approval of the secretary of defense, to honor the memory of the president. The land has been retained for the nation as a whole and has not been deeded to the Kennedy family. The steep hillside has never been considered suitable for graves or a general burial location. The Kennedy family paid actual costs in the immediate grave area. The government was responsible for the improvements in the surrounding area that provided for the accommodation of the visiting public. Funds in the amount of $1,770,000 were included for this purpose in Fiscal Year 1965’s Public Works Appropriation.
In addition, $71,026 went to Ammann and Whitney, Structural Engineers, New York, N.Y. The Aberthaw Construction Company, Boston, Mass., carried out the work under the supervision of the U.S. Army District Engineering, Norfolk, Va. On May 23, 1994, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was buried next to President Kennedy. The gravesite was completed with addition of her grave marker Oct. 6, 1994.
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial
Robert F. Kennedy, brother of President John F. Kennedy, former attorney general, senator and presidential candidate, was shot on June 5, 1968, and died the next morning.
The funeral Mass for Senator Kennedy took place at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York City, Saturday, June 8, 1968.
The remains were then transported upon a slow-moving train to Washington, D.C., via Newark and Trenton, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; and Baltimore, Md. The railway system stopped all northbound traffic between Washington, D.C., and New York, and many people gathered along the route to pay tribute to Senator Kennedy. The long transport delayed the arrival at Union Station until 9:10 p.m., and cemetery officials quickly changed the funeral plans to accommodate an evening interment.
Floodlights were placed around the open grave and service members provided 1,500 candles which were distributed to the mourners. The casket was borne from the train by 13 pallbearers, including former astronaut John Glenn, former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, family friend Gen. Maxwell Taylor, Robert’s eldest son Joe and his brother Senator Edward Kennedy.
The procession stopped once during the drive to Arlington National Cemetery at the Lincoln Memorial where the Marine Corps Band played “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” The funeral motorcade arrived at the cemetery at 10:30 p.m. The brief grave-side service was conducted by Terence Cardinal Cook, Archbishop of Washington. Afterward the folded flag was presented to Ethel and Joe Kennedy in behalf of the United States by John Glenn.
In 1971 a more-elaborate grave site was completed, at the request of the Kennedy family, by architect I.M. Pei (who also designed the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art). The new grave site retains the simple, white Christian cross of the earlier site, and adds a granite plaza (like JFK’s grave site which adjoins it) and two inscriptions from Senator Kennedy’s most notable addresses:
“It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest wall of oppression and resistance.”
Robert F. Kennedy, South Africa, 1966
“Some men see things as they are and ask ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were and ask, ‘Why not?'”
Robert F. Kennedy, 1968
Senator Robert Kennedy’s funeral is the only one ever take place at night at Arlington National Cemetery.
President William Howard Taft Monument
Howard Taft was interred in Arlington National Cemetery March 11, 1930.
His widow, Helen Herron Taft, was buried beside him May 25, 1943. Following the president’s interment, the War Department placed an order for a headstone with the Vermont Marble Company.
The stone was to have a Latin Cross in a rosette at the top and the following inscription:
WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES 1909 – 1913 DIED MARCH 6, 1930
It is not known whether this headstone was ever erected, since soon after President Taft’s death, Mrs. Taft arranged with James Earl Frazer, a New York sculptor, to design a private monument for the grave.
The design was approved by the Commission of Fine Arts and the secretary of war. It was erected by the Taft family in early 1932.
The monument is in the Greek stele form, surmounted by a carved ornamental device in the acroteric motif.
There are two 6-inch rosettes on the shaft, front and rear, 8 feet 3 inches from the base.
A bench of the same material as the monument 1 foot 6 1/4 inches by 5 feet by 1 foot 6 inches high is on each side and approximately 15 feet to the right and left rear of the monument.
There is a foot stone 6 inches by 8 inches to mark the foot of each grave.