Arlington National Cemetery

This is the second in my “Driving to the Inaugural” series.  I am driving from my computer with the assistance of memory and past images. Triple A doesn’t have road service for this journey even though I have a premium membership.  Here are the other post in the series:

Day One


Arriving in DC before an inaugural (and before they close the bridges to automobile traffic)  gives you time to take a taxi to Arlington National Cemetery.  That is Lee’s Mansion up on the hill through the windshield.

In the course of one year, four million people visit this cemetery.  This weekend alone might account for an additional million if crowd estimates are at all correct.

It was first consecrated as a national cemetery in June 1864 by then Secretary of War, Edwin M.  Stanton, a former rival of President Lincoln’s, who pronounced immediately after his death in April, 1965, “Now he belongs to the ages.”

There are 300,000 men and women interred in Arlington including military from the Revolutionary War right up to today’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as John F. Kennedy and his brother, Robert Kennedy.  Included in the three hundred thousand, located in Section 27, are more than 3,800 former slaves, called “Contrabands” during the Civil War. Their headstones are designated with the word “Civilian” or “Citizen.”

There shall be no burials at Arlington on Monday and Tuesday of inaugural week as there normally would be.

But, on Wednesday, January 21 2008, twenty burials are scheduled as the nation resumes bearing witness to our dead and Citizen Obama takes up the official business of the living.

As he gives his inaugural address if he looks just slightly to his right,  I believe he might be able to see Lee’s mansion and the grounds that contain our history.

If this is not poetry, people, I do not know what is.

©Pat Coakley 2009


Facts about Arlington National Cemetery available on the official website:

Arlington National Cemetery

12 comments on “Arlington National Cemetery”

  1. This is one of the most somber places I’ve been. It’s a moving experience to say the least. God bless them all, the residents of Arlington National Cemetery

  2. Yes, Jeff, I quite agree. I’ve been there several times. Thanks for leaving a comment on this post.

  3. Nice warm colour and almost too beautiful.

    “slave owner’s mansion
    war dead buried all around
    chills new president”

  4. Razz, the photo is a mixed media piece from 2003. Back in the days when I used to paint some of my photos. But, the beauty thing.. I know what you mean. Where is that quote from?

  5. “Where is that quote from?”

    It’s an ad hoc haiku by Razzbuffnik. Thought you might want some poetry.

  6. So good, Razz. Yes, I am always in the mood for poetry.

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