Arlington Monuments and Arlington National Cemetery
This tour includes historic sites throughout Arlington National Cemetery and the surrounding area that commemorate the history of the United States military.
Dedicated by President and former Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1954, the US Marine Corps War Memorial is based on one of the most iconic images in American military history. The memorial depicts six men raising the American flag over the island of Iwo Jima as a sign that the Marines had won control of that strategic island after a long-fought battle. The American victory and control of Iwo Jima gave U.S. forces control of an island and airfields that was within striking distance of Japan, a feat that demonstrated that the nearly three-year-long struggle in the Pacific was finally coming to a close.
Arlington House is a historic mansion located on a hillside amidst 250,000 military graves in Arlington National Cemetery. The mansion was famously occupied, although never actually owned, by Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Arlington House was built between 1803 and 1818 by George Washington’s adopted grandson, George Washington Parke Custis, intended as a living memorial to the first United States president. Mary Anna Custis Lee, Custis’s daughter and Robert E. Lee’s wife, inherited the property after her father’s death in 1857. The property was later acquired by the federal government and became a National Park Service site in 1933. Arlington House is significant for its connection to notable colonial families as well as families who trace their lineages back to enslaved people at the plantation, such as the Grays and Syphaxes. Arlington House was dedicated as a memorial to Robert E. Lee in 1955, and the National Park Service interprets his legacy in addition to the Custis and Washington families and the enslaved people at Arlington.
The Civil War Unknowns Monument is a burial vault and memorial dedicated to those unknown soldiers that lost their lives in the Civil War. Constructed in 1866, it is located in the grounds of Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. It lies just west of the Lee Flower Garden where Civil War soldiers were interred starting in 1864, owing to a lack of suitable burial grounds. The structure has changed considerably from its original design.
President John F. Kennedy, the 35th United States President, is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery on the hillside below the Arlington House. After the military ceremony on November, 25th, 1963, the day of President Kennedy’s funeral, his wife Jacqueline Kennedy lit the Eternal Flame. The flame and memorial was later surrounded by a white picket fence. The Eternal Flame was inspired by the Kennedy family's trip to Paris, where they saw a flame in memory of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc De Triomphe. Mrs. Kennedy had expressed she wanted a similar device to show the world that her husband had also given his life to his country.
The Beirut Barracks Memorial is dedicated to the 241 American servicemen who were killed in the bombing of a Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon. It occurred during the Lebanese Civil War after two suicide bombers drove truck bombs in the barracks detonating them. There were 299 total casualties from the explosions because the barracks were holding a joint task force of French and American forces. It is located in section 59 of the cemetery.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, also referred to as the Tomb of the Unknowns, is located in Arlington, VA at Arlington National Cemetery. The site honors all of the unidentified American servicemen and servicewomen who lost their lives during American military engagements. The remains of one individual have been entombed in front of the memorial since World War One. Tomb Guards have patrolled the area every hour of every day since 1937.
Nestled among the rolling hills overlooking the capital city Washington D.C. and the Potomac River, Arlington National Cemetery honors those who have died in service to our country. The cemetery sits on land that was once part of Robert E. Lee’s family estate and was appropriated by the Union after the Lee family fled at the onset of the Civil War. In an ironic move born of political ill-will and necessity, the Union began burying their soldiers on the Confederate general’s estate. Through an illegal tax ordinance, the federal government took control of the estate and purchased it at a public auction. After the war, the family sued the government and won back the estate, however they had no desire to return so they sold it back to the federal government. Through many years of military burials and the addition of new memorials, the Lee family estate has become the Arlington National Cemetery we know today. Currently, the gardens and grounds of this 624 acre cemetery serve as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual laid to rest within.
This monument was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery in 1990 to honor the 3rd Infantry Division. From its beginnings in 1917 to the division's support in the Korea war, the division fought in a total of 24 campaigns, 10 of which were during WWII. The 3d Division was organized at Camp Greene, North Carolina on 23 November 1917 and continues to be active with soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years. Every unit within the division was in France by March 1918, and the division entered combat in May. On July 15, the division distinguished itself in defense of the Marne River at Chateau-Thierry, forty-five miles northeast of Paris. This action earned the division the proud motto, "Rock of the Marne." The 3rd Infantry Division fought with distinction in World War II, participating in four amphibious landings in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France. The Division played a crucial role in the defense of South Korea. It returned to Germany in 1957 as part of the NATO Defense Force and was still serving in that nation when the 3rd Division Memorial was dedicated on August 15, 1990. From the first World War to Korea, 11,120 members of the 3rd Infantry were killed in battle and another 41,000 were wounded or recorded as MIA (Missing in Action).
Two-hundred and fifty-eight American sailors were sent to their death on February 15th, 1898 due to mysterious circumstances that resulted in an explosion. Relations between Spain and America were extremely tense because of the Cuban revolt against Spain and the United States loyalty that resided with Cuba. The sinking of the USS Maine—caused by an enigmatic explosion—had massive impacts due to how people with varying sociocultural backgrounds rationalized the ordeal. Nevertheless, after the manipulation of these 258 casualties by the infamous yellow journalists and the era’s politicians, a monument was erected in their honor in 1902 but was transformed into the Spanish-American War Memorial. Nevertheless, 17 years after the explosion, a memorial was raised in Arlington National Cemetery called the USS Maine Mast Memorial.
The Confederate Monument at Arlington National Cemetery is a place of refection and honor. Arlington National Cemetery is a hallowed ground that has given over 400,000 veterans of the United States Armed Forces a final resting place. It has over 28 major monuments and 142 minor memorials. One of the major monuments includes the Confederate Monument.
The Battle of the Bulge Memorial was created for those soldiers who died fighting for freedom at the Battle of the Bulge. The monument was approved for construction on December 6th, 2002 when the Veterans Benefits Act of 2002 was passed. It was finished on May 8th, 2006 and was dedicated. It was dedicated by Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and Luxembourg Secretary of State for Culture Octavie Modert. 300 veterans of the battle and their family members attended.
The Spanish-American War Nurses Memorial is a monument located in Arlington National Cemetery, installed on May 2, 1905. This monument, made of granite, was created to pay tribute to the nurses who died during the Spanish-American War, which took place in 1898. The Spanish-American War marked the first time that females served in any capacity in the United States Military; prior to this, military nurses were male. The monument resides in Section 21 of Arlington National Cemetery, the same section in which the Spanish-American War Nurses are buried.
Dedicated to the men and women that have served or are serving in the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Air Force Memorial is a three-spired monument that stands 270 feet high. The monument, located in Arlington County, VA represents the Air Force Thunderbirds flying in a bomb burst maneuver. The monument was revealed on October 14. 2006 and overlooks the Pentagon. The star that symbolizes the Air Force is encapsulated beneath the spires. The “Runway to Glory” entrance of the monument displays a Glass Contemplation Wall that pays tribute to those in the Air Force that have paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving.
The National September 11th Pentagon Memorial is located on the southern side of the Pentagon and was constructed in remembrance of the 184 people who lost their lives in the terrorist attack on the Pentagon. The Pentagon Memorial was the first memorial of its kind to be completed and was dedicated on September 11, 2008. Since that time, many other memorials have been created throughout New York, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania.
Designed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and completed in 1943, the Pentagon is a symbol of the United States’ military power and strength. The Pentagon has been the site of military planing, anti-war protests, ceremonies honoring soldiers and officers, and foreign terrorist attacks. This unique building houses the US Department of Defense and is the hub of activity during war time. It faced the threat of nuclear attacks during the Cold War and was the site of a terrorist attack on September 11, 2001.