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Arlington National Cemetery’s 150th Anniversary


Arlington National Cemetery’s 150th Anniversary
© Rachel Cooper, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Arlington National Cemetery will commemorate its 150th anniversary with a series of special events from May through June 2014. The events kick-off with a wreath laying ceremony on May 13 at the gravesite of Army Pvt. William Christman, who was the first military burial at Arlington, and conclude with a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on June 15, the day Arlington officially became a national cemetery. The cemetery will also host lectures and tours that highlight the history of the United States through the military conflicts that shaped the cemetery and the nation.

Arlington National Cemetery was created during the American Civil War and has become a national shrine for hundreds of thousands active duty military members and veterans who have served during times of war and times of peace. America’s heroes are buried here from every American conflict, from the Revolutionary War to the conflicts of the 21st century.

For general information about the cemetery, see A Visitors Guide to Arlington National Cemetery.

See Photos of Arlington National Cemetery

Event Schedule

  • May 13, 2014: Wreath Laying Ceremony at the grave of Pvt. William Christman, the first service military burial at Arlington
  • May 13, 2014: Arlington National Cemetery 150th Anniversary Book Release Reception at the Women In Military Service for America Memorial
  • May 30, 2014: Renaming ceremony for the Old Amphitheater, immediately following Decoration Day Observance hosted by the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
  • June 15, 2014, 8:30 p.m. “Arlington at 150” Observance Program: A tribute to Arlington’s Past, Present and Future. Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Amphitheater. The event features historical vignettes and musical performances. The show is free and open to the public. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early to ensure access and should plan to be seated no later than 8:00 p.m.
  • June 15, 2014: Wreath Laying Ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Arlington at 150 Special Guided Tours

As part of Arlington National Cemetery 150th anniversary commemoration, Arlington has partnered with ANC Tours by Martz Gray Line to provide a series of narrated tours that explore Arlington’s history. The tours include transportation around the cemetery, a speaker and a narrator from the Arlington National Cemetery History Office. Tickets for “Arlington at 150” tours will be available for purchase on-site in the Welcome Center or online through www.anctours.com as the dates approach. All tours run from 2 to 5 p.m. and begin at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.
  • May 19 and June 2, 2014: The American Civil War
    The American Civil War (1861-1865), also known as “The War Between the States,” pitted neighbor against neighbor and brother against brother. By the time it ended in Confederate surrender in 1865, the Civil War proved to be the costliest war ever fought on American soil. Arlington National Cemetery was created to bury the war dead. This tour explores how the Arlington Estate came to be Arlington National Cemetery and historical figures from this conflict.
  • May 20, 2014: Uncle Sam’s Little Wars
    The War of 1812, various Indians campaigns, the Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, as well as interventions in the early 20th century are collectively referred to as “Uncle Sam's Little Wars.” Arlington National Cemetery was greatly impacted by “Uncle Sam’s Little Wars.” The first repatriations came from causalities of the Spanish-American War. Stops will include the War of 1812 Unknowns, sections 3, 21, 22, 24, along with a visit to the Mast of the USS Maine.
  • May 21 and June 3, 2014: World War I: Bringing our Heroes Home
    As the First World War had a tremendous impact on the United States, it also had a lasting effect on Arlington National Cemetery. Most importantly, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was created, similar to other burials of the unknown dead in Europe after World War I. Stops will include sections 18, 19, the Argonne Cross, section 34, and finish with a tour of the Memorial Amphitheater and watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
  • May 22, 2014: World War II: The Greatest Generation
    The Second World War was the first war fought globally. More than 11 million Americans, referred to as the “Greatest Generation,” fought the Axis aggression on two fronts in Europe and the Pacific. The war continues to have great impact on Arlington National Cemetery as the generation that fought in this war ages, and joins the ranks of those who fought the wars before them. In 1958, the remains of a World War II unknown was added to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The tour will include stops in sections 7, 7A, the Battle of the Bulge Memorial (section 21), 35, 36 and 46.
  • May 23, 2014: U.S. Military and the Cold War
    The Cold War is a term used to describe the conflict between the United States and communist expansion fought on many fronts all over the world, both in open and secret warfare, over a 45 year period after World War II. The first open conflict of the Cold War was fought on the Korean Peninsula from June 1950 through July 1953. Less than 10 years later, the United States would find itself involved in a 10 year conflict in Vietnam. The Cold War would end in the late 1980s not with gun fire, but cheers, as the people of East Berlin tore down the wall that divided the city which was the greatest symbol of the Cold War itself.
  • June 4, 2014: Late 20th Century to the Present
    With the end of the Cold War and the world’s dependency on oil, a new enemy raised its head in extremism. From the bombing of the Beirut barracks in Lebanon in 1983, to the battle of Mogadishu, Somalia, to the attacks on September 11, 2001 and the Global War on Terror, the war on extremism is one of terror and intimate battles. The greatest impact to Arlington National Cemetery can be seen in section 60, sometimes referred to as the saddest acre in America.
  • June 5, 2014: Monuments and Memorials
    The history of the United States can be seen every day walking through Arlington National Cemetery. At Arlington, America’s heroes from every conflict, from the Revolutionary War to the conflicts of the 21st century, are buried within its hallowed grounds. This tour explores notable graves and memorials that illustrate America’s rich history.
  • June 6, 2014: Medal of Honor
    The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States. There are approximately 407 Medal of Honor recipients buried at Arlington National Cemetery. This tour will cover the story of American conflicts through the valor of Medal of Honor recipients.

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