Friday, June 25, 2010

Arlington National Cemetery: My Photos Can’t Do It Justice.

We watched the movie Gettysburg, toured the battlefields there, and then learned tons (at least I did) in the museum about the men who fought there during the Civil War.

With all of that as a point of reference, Arlington National Cemetery became one of my favorite stops on vacation.  It’s a place to remember all those who gave their lives to protect the freedoms of our country.

The grounds were beautiful.  The rows of stones staggering in their numbers. 

Arlington Cemetery

The Changing of the Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was somber.  Sobering.  Moving.

Changing of the guard 2

The noonday heat was intense as we waited for it to begin.  So, my husband and youngest son had skirted the rope to find a bit of shade. 

It was a very poignant moment when I saw their two faces between the soldiers during the arms inspection.  I couldn’t help but think of why men in uniform serve…to protect families such as ours, and the freedom we enjoy.  

changing of the guard

Seeing Arlington House itself, though, had to be the highlight.  Did you know that Arlington House, sitting high on a hill overlooking a breath-taking view of Washington, belonged to General Robert E. Lee?  Actually, it was the childhood home of his wife, Mary Custis Lee.

Arlington House

Although under renovation, the house was still amazing.  We started in the small front room to the right of the entryway, where Robert E. Lee proposed to his wife.  Then we went on to the adjoining room, where they were married.

Upstairs, we stood at the door of his bedchamber.

BedroomIt was here where Lee faced the grim choice between loyalty to Virginia, where his family had lived for six generations, and loyalty to the United States which he had served for thirty two years as an officer in the U.S. Army.

After learning that Virginia would soon vote to secede from the Union, Lee retired to this room on the evening of April 19, 1861 to consider the situation and his own role in the impending Civil War. Closing the door behind him, he paced back and forth across the pine floors, trying to bring himself to a final decision.

Shortly after midnight he came downstairs with two letters in hand—one to the Secretary of War and the other to his friend and mentor, Gen. Winfield Scott—and announced to his wife, "Well, Mary, the question is settled. Here is my letter of resignation..."

Two days later, Lee left for Richmond where he accepted command of the Virginia militia forces, never to return to Arlington again. Within a month, the rest of the family would follow him southward.          National Park Service’s Virtual Tour


The land was transformed from a plantation estate into an Army encampment, community for emancipated slaves, and a cemetery. 

If you ever get the chance, this incredible property, with all of its historical and memorial history, is a must-see in Washington.  :)

PhotoStory Friday
Hosted by Cecily

P.S.  These photos were all taken with my old Olympus C-730 Ultra.  But a little later in our vacation I got a NEW camera!  It’s a dream…seriously.  It’s the Nikon D5000.  And just as soon as I figure out how to get my pictures out of the camera and onto my computer, you’ll get to see some of them!  Lol!


The Real Me! said...

Wow, what a beautiful history lesson my friend. And what a house huh? They knew how to do it right the first time back then.
I am so thankful for the men and women who risk their lives daily to protect our great nation.
It saddened me to hear of the President going on vacation instead of attending the unknown soldier ceremony on Memorial Day. Every President before him did this because it is expected but he just didn't see it as important. The man has no respect for our country. But that's a whole nother story. LOL!

Kelli @ writing the waves said...

I've been to Arlington cemetery a few times too, and I agree, it is a must see in DC. Great photo story!

Christina said...

Another wonderful post! Thank you for sharing the things you learned along with your photos.

Amy said...

I think these are amazing. Arlington Cemetery is such and amazingly sacred place.

scrappysue said...

we were in arlington memorial weekend 1995. there's nothing else like it. thanks for sharing and for stopping by

Carrie and Troy Keiser said...

I would love to go see those places one day, but for now I'll live thru you.

Krystyn said...

We visited there when I was younger, but I don't think I really understood it all.

I bet it's a very emotional place to visit.

Just A Mom (Call me JAM for short) said...

I went to Arlington once many years ago. I'll never forget it. It's an incredibly touching place...