- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 4, 2001

Honor, sacrifice and bravery are everywhere in the 612 acres that make up Arlington National Cemetery.

Those ideals are found in the grand monuments to officers as well as in the simple rows of tombstones marking the graves of young men who died in battle. They are found in the ramrod-straight uniformed sentinel who keeps watch over the Tomb of the Unknowns and in the markers of the space shuttle Challenger astronauts.

These days, there are reminders that those ideals are necessary every day. The Pentagon, one of the sites hit by terrorists on September 11, is visible from the cemetery's serene hills. Thirty-eight persons killed in the disaster have been buried at Arlington since September 11, says cemetery historian Tom Sherlock.

"It is even a more hallowed ground since September 11," Mr. Sherlock says. "That is reflected in the mood of the people who visit."

Sean Taylor, a computer specialist from Dover, N.H., went out of his way to visit Arlington Cemetery while driving through the area on his way to Indiana recently. He says he always wanted to visit, but it took the recent events to give him the motivation.

"It is definitely moving," he says.

Mr. Taylor and his friend Andrea Hendrickson moved along the paths and roads of the grounds, taking in the stories of some of the 260,000 persons buried there. History is everywhere, from the graves of 3,800 former slaves to those of veterans of the Persian Gulf War.

There are, of course, famous landmarks, too. The grave of President Kennedy is a popular spot, where an eternal flame glows behind the simple markers of the former president; his wife, Jackie; and two of their children, who died as infants.

Nearby, the president's brother, former U.S. Attorney General and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is buried. His grave is marked by a simple white cross. A wall opposite the cross is engraved with an excerpt from a speech RFK made in South Africa in 1966. Its words ring especially true today:

"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 walls of oppression and resistance."

Arlington House, the family home of Robert E. Lee that the Union commandeered during the Civil War, is located on a summit overlooking the cemetery. Now the home is a memorial to Lee and offers a fabulous view of the District below.

Another popular spot at the cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknowns, which contains the remains of unidentified servicemen from World War I, World War II and the Korean War. Those who died during the Vietnam War also are honored. The marble sarcophagus has three figures sculpted into the side that faces the Capitol. The figures represent peace, victory and valor.

Visitors can sit on the amphitheater steps opposite the tomb and watch the sentinel from the Army's Old Guard. The sentinel crosses the walkway in precisely 21 steps, symbolic of the 21-gun salute afforded military dignitaries. He also faces the tomb for exactly 21 seconds. The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The Tomb of the Unknowns will be the site of the cemetery's traditional Veterans Day ceremony Nov. 11. A wreath-laying will take place at 1 p.m. A similar ceremony will take place at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that day. There will be a color guard, wreath-laying and speakers at the memorial, located at 21st Street and Constitution Avenue in the District.

Other places to honor those who have served:

• The Women in Military Service for America Memorial. This monument, located at the ceremonial entrance to the cemetery, is a museum honoring women who served in wars as well as those who helped the effort on the home front. The main building has a collection of artifacts such as uniforms, flags and medals. The roof of the building, accessible by stairway and elevator, has a spectacular view of Arlington National Cemetery and the Washington Monument.

• The Korean War Veterans Memorial, located on the Mall at 23rd Street and Independence Avenue SW, features a set of 19 stainless-steel figures. The monument depicts the soldiers in a range of emotions, which brings home the human impact of men fighting a war.

• The Marine Corps War Memorial is located just outside Arlington National Cemetery. It is a realistic sculpture depicting the Marines struggling to raise the American flag at Iwo Jima, the Pacific island where more than 6,000 Americans died in battle during World War II.


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