on January 9, 2007
Savings alert: Visiting the cemetery is free. However, if you drive, you do have to pay a few dollars to park. Just on the other side of Washington, D.C. stands Arlington, VA, and more importantly, Arlington National Cemetery.Here lay men and women, of all ages and generations, who unfortunately have lost their lives in their service in the military. Many were killed during a conflict, all the way from WWI to the present. Over 300,000 people are interred at the Cemetery across their 200 acres. They have funerals almost every weekday on-site. One of the most popular sights there is the resting place for President John F. Kennedy, his wife Jackie Kennedy Onasis, and two of their children. President Kennedy was assassinated in November of 1963. He is buried with an "eternal flame" burning in his honor. This gas-powered flame never goes out. People often feel compelled to visit his gravesite partially because of his age (he was the United States' youngest President) and the manner in which he died. Also, many of our parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, teachers and professors, remember his death and where they were when they heard that he had died. (If you doubt, just ask them. They can probably tell you every detail.)Another of the more popular sites at the cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknowns, or the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There lays an unidentified soldier from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. There as a unidentified soldier from the Vietnam War. However, in 1998, his remains were exhumed and positively identified. He was reinterred near his family. The tomb of the Unknown Vietnam remains empty. Every hour, dozens of people turn out for a changing of the guard ceremony. That Tomb is under constant watch by this honor guard. The changing of the guard ceremony is a very intriguing, precise, and moving experience. There is a level of silence where you could literally hear a pin drop.As I noted above, you can visit the cemetery for free. However, if you do drive, it does cost a nominal fee to park there. Also, like most other places, bring some good walking shoes. You will not have to go to the gym after a trip here, trust me. There is no transportation provided at the cemetery, so by foot will be your mode of transportation.This sacred ground can move anyone to think, contemplate, reflect, cry, et al. Even if you don't know anyone there personally, you see all the white headstones and realize that many, many, many people sacrificed their lives so that we may be free today. For that, we all should be greatful, regardless of how we feel about any of the conflicts we are or were a part of. If you have a few hours, head over the Potomac River, and take a leisurely stroll. This beautiful parcel of land needs to be witnessed by all.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009