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We decided to visit Arlington Cemetery, and it was probably the hottest day during our stay in D.C. We took the tour bus/train through the cemetery, and only lasted a couple of stops before we said "Its too bloody hot. We quit" LOL
Our first stop was the Kennedy family grave site. We first had to see JFK and Jackie Kennedy's graves, and with them are the two young children they lost. One was a stillborn, and the other was a young boy who only lived a couple of days. We noticed that the boy, Patrick, died in August and JFK was killed that November. Jackie had a horrendous year losing not only her infant son but also witnessing the murder of husband. What an amazing woman.
The eternal flame.
A wider shot of the grave site. Everyone honored the rule of silence while visiting the site.
The view from the Kennedy grave site. Stunning.
Nearby, we have Bobby Kennedy's grave.
And Ted Kennedy's grave.
During our tour we learned a brief history of Arlington Cemetery. Time for history lesson for my readers.
The land and the mansion, Arlington House, was originally owned and built by George Washington Parke Custis, adopted grandson of George Washington. George never had children of his own but Martha had four children from her previous marriage. And George Custis was the son of John Parke Custis.
George had only one child, a daughter, named Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who was married to Robert E. Lee Upon George's death he gave Mary the right to inhabit and control the house for the rest of her life, and upon her death the estate would then go to her son George Washington Custis Lee.
Fast forward to the American Civil War in 1861. When Virgina seceded from the Union to become part of the Confederacy and Lee was name Major General for the Virgina Military. Fearing for their safety Mary and Robert left their beloved Arlington Estate, which was captured by Union forces. Mary was of poor health, and the taxes were due on the property in Jan. 1864. Unable to make the trip to Virgina herself to pay the taxes, she sent the money with a trusted servant, but the government wouldn't take the money, saying Mary had to pay in person. They seized the property and Arlington National Cemetery was established by Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Miegs who turned the estate into a cemetery for Union soldiers only. I guess he was a little ticked at Robert E. Lee. He also attempted to make the home uninhabitable should the Lee family return. And Miegs had himself and his family buried within a 100 yards of the house. He really really didn't like Lee.
After Robert and Mary's death, their son, George, took the matter to the court of Alexandria (Arlington today) claiming "that the land had been illegally confiscated and that, according to his grandfather's will, he was the owner." And in December 1882, the U.S. Supreme Court returned the property back to the Lee family stating "that it had been confiscated without due process"
In March, 1883 George sold the property to Congress for $150,000 to become a military reservation.
End of history lesson.
The number of graves at Arlington is amazing. If it wasn't so hot I would have enjoyed exploring more of the cemetery.
The second stop, was Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. We arrived about 5-10 mins before the changing of the guard. Again, complete silence was expected. Everybody was so hot, I don't think we could have made much noise anyways. Again, a very moving memorial to those who sacrificed their lives. The tomb has a soldier from WW I, WW II, and the Korean war. The Vietnam Soldier was identified a few years ago through DNA and his remains were interred to a site near his family.
The changing of the guards was impressive to watch. The discipline and the precision the soldiers exhibited was amazing. A few minutes after the changing of the guard, one of the spectators decided to cross the barrier, to get a better look maybe, but I have no idea. The guard, who has been absolutely silent until then, not even acknowledging that others were there, basically told the individual to get back to the other side. And based on his tone, he would not hesitate to use physical force take the person out. I do believe that individuals brain must have melted completely in the heat. LOL
NASA tribute to the astronauts who have lost their lives over the years. This was across from the Tomb of the Unknown soldier. There were a couple more places to get on and off at during the tour, but we all said enough. Lets get out of this heat.
Afterwards, we drove all the way to the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum Hanger.
This is the Lockhead SR-71A Blackbird. If you are a fan of the Transformers movies like we are, you will recognize it from Transformers 2, its the plane they turned into a Transformer, who used to be a Decepticon but changed alliances to the Roboticon. I thought it would be fun if we ran around the museum with a shard of the Allspark and try to see which aircraft would come to life. Dave just rolled his eyes. He is no fun. LOL
And the reason we drove to the Hangar, the space shuttle Enterprise. Dave was in complete and utter heaven, to put it mildly. LOL
What caught my attention was this model used in Close Encounters of The Third Kind. Apparently production crew who made this model had some fun and hid various objects on the model. Including a cemetery and R2D2. It was fun trying to find all the object listed on the card.