World Book: Arlington National
Cemetery is one of the largest and
most famous national
cemeteries in the United States. It covers about 612
acres (248 hectares) in Arlington, Va., across
the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The cemetery
surrounds Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee
Memorial, which was the home of General Robert E. Lee of
the Confederate Army. It occupies land
that was once a part of the estate of Lee's wife, Mary
Custis Lee. The United States government
made Arlington a national cemetery in 1864. The
Department of the Army administers it.
Space in the cemetery is available for honorably
discharged winners of the Air Force Cross,
Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal,
Medal of Honor, Navy Cross, Purple Heart,
or Silver Star; members of the armed services who die on
active duty; certain disabled veterans;
members of the armed forces who have served long enough
to be officially retired; and honorably
discharged veterans who have held a federal elective
office or a Cabinet-level position, or who
have served on the Supreme Court. Their wives or husbands
and their minor children are also
eligible. Until 1967, all honorably discharged veterans
could be buried in the cemetery.
The Tomb of the Unknowns of World Wars I and II, the
Korean War, and the Vietnam War is
located in Arlington. Wreaths are placed at this tomb on
national holidays and during visits of
dignitaries. The grave of President John F. Kennedy,
marked by an eternal flame, lies on a hillside
near Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial. Kennedy
and William Howard Taft
are the only Presidents buried in Arlington.
The tomb is now
14 years, he lay buried in the Tomb of the Unknown
Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.
The remains of this unknown soldier were identified
through DNA testing,
a technology unavailable at the time of his burial, and
5/24/01 - the unknown soldier
comes home -- Read about how DNA has
identified the unknown
solder as Michael Joseph Blassie!
Check The History Channel's link about Memorial Day
to the DNA discovery of the last Unknown.......
From World Book: Unknown soldier. After World War I
(1914-1918), officials of the Allied countries
found that the bodies of many soldiers killed in battle
could not be identified. The governments of
Belgium, Britain, France, Italy, and the United States
decided to honor the memory of these soldiers.
Each government chose a symbolic unknown soldier, buried
the remains near the national capital, and
built a monument in honor of the soldier. Belgium placed
its unknown soldier in a tomb at the base of
the Colonnade of the Congress in Brussels. Britain buried
its unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey.
France buried its unknown soldier beneath the Arc de
Triomphe in the center of Paris, and keeps
a flame always burning over the grave. Italy's unknown
soldier lies in front of the monument to
Victor Emmanuel II, the first king of a united Italy, in
The unknown soldier of the United States was one of four
war dead taken from American cemeteries
in France. An American soldier, Sergeant Edward Younger,
selected the soldier from these four.
The remains were brought to the U.S. Capitol to lie in
state. On Armistice Day (Nov. 11), 1921,
they were buried in Arlington National Cemetery in
Virginia, across the Potomac River from
Washington, D.C. The tomb, completed in 1931, has a white
marble sarcophagus over the grave
bearing the inscription, "Here rests in honored
glory an American soldier known but to God."
Congress later directed that an "Unknown
American" from each of three wars--World War II
(1939-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), and the Vietnam
War (1957-1973)--be buried beside
the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The World War II and
Korean War unknowns were buried in
marble-capped crypts at the head of the tomb on Memorial
Day in 1958. The unknown serviceman of
the Vietnam War was buried between them during a Memorial
Day ceremony in 1984.
World War II unknown was chosen from two unidentified
soldiers by an American sailor,
Hospitalman William Charette, in a ceremony aboard the
cruiser Canberra off Norfolk, Virginia. The
Korean War unknown was chosen by an American soldier,
Sergeant Ned Lyle, from the unidentified
dead of that war buried in the National Memorial Cemetery
of the Pacific at Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Vietnam War unknown was the only American serviceman
known to have been killed in that
war whose remains could not be identified. At the time of
the ceremony, however,
more than 2,400 servicemen were still listed as missing.
An amphitheater, funded by the Grand Army of the Republic
in honor of military forces killed in
battle, stands near the tomb. Memorial Day services are
held there each year. An honor guard
from the 1st Battalion Group, 3rd Infantry, Fort Myer,
Virginia, keeps a sentry on duty at all times.
The sentry is changed every hour during the day between
October 1 and March 31, and every half
hour between April 1 and September 30. The sentry is
changed every two hours at night.