Two days at Arlington National Cemetery — Steemit

Two days at Arlington National Cemetery

in travelfeed •  6 months ago

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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


These are Hallowed Grounds

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Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, is across the Potomac River from Washington DC and is the final resting place to more than 400,000 that have given their lives in the different conflicts that our nation has been involved in.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The cemetery is a massive 624 acres and it will take you more than one day to fully take in and appreciate the whole thing. I spent two days there and I just scratched the surface of this place.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


As a combat veteran, as I was walking through the most sacred cemetery in our nation, I felt a calmness come over me. It was a very different feeling than all of the other cemeteries that I have visited over the past few weeks. I didn't feel sadness or anything that I had felt in the previous cemeteries, but I felt a sense of pride and honor, like all the spirits that reside here were honored of the respect and appreciation of everyone that visits the cemetery daily and is keeping their memories alive.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is something that I have wanted to visit for many years. When we were planning this trip and I found out that we were going to be spending time here in the DC area, I knew that I was super excited to get to finally see it.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The Tomb is dedicated to honor all of the service members that have given their lives without their remains being able to be identified. The inscription that is on the front of the tomb reads:

HERE RESTS IN
HONORED GLORY
AN AMERICAN
SOLDIER
KNOWN BUT TO GOD


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The first Unknown was buried here on November 11, 1921, and was a Soldier in World War 1.

The next two are Soldiers from World War 2 and the Korean War. They were laid to rest in the tomb on May 30th, 1958.

On May 28th, 1984, an Unknown Soldier from Vietnam was laid to rest in the tomb. In 1998, DNA results positively identified the Unknown from Vietnam as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Lộc, Vietnam, in 1972(source). The Vietnam crypt remains empty and sealed but the slab over it has been replaced to say "Honoring and Keeping Faith with America's Missing Servicemen".


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The sentinel that stands guard over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier holds one of the most prestigious honors that an Army soldier can have. Becoming a Tomb Guard is a very selective process. Less than 20% of those that volunteer are accepted for training and only a very small fraction of those that are accepted even make it through the training, making the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification Badge the second least award badge in the US military, second to the Astronaut Badge, which should show how rare it is to become a Tomb Guard.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


Everything that the Tomb Guards do commands respect. Their routine is flawless.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


Here is the routine that the Tomb Guards do 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

Marches 21 steps south down the black mat laid across the Tomb.
Turns and faces east, toward the Tomb, for 21 seconds.
Turns and faces north, changes weapon to outside shoulder, and waits 21 seconds.
Marches 21 steps down the mat.
Turns and faces east for 21 seconds.
Turns and faces south, changes weapon to outside shoulder, and waits 21 seconds.
Repeats the routine until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The 21 seconds and 21 steps signifies the 21 gun salute, which is the highest military honor.

The Tomb Guard also shoulders the weapon to the other side every time he reaches the other side of the mat and turns so that he can keep his weapon between the visitors and the Tomb to symbolize how he is willing to protect the Tomb from any perceived threat.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


Changing of the Tomb Guard and the Wreath Ceremony

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When the Cemetery is open to the public, the Tomb Guards are switched out ever 30 minutes. This is a pretty amazing process when it happens.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


A sentinel in charge of the Tomb Guards marches out the Guard taking over the post and inspects him prior to relieving the Guard that is at his post. The whole process is timed perfectly between the three of them.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


All three of them meet in front of the Tomb and the sentinel in charge relieves the outgoing Guard.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The outgoing Guard then passes his post orders to the incoming Guard and exits his post. Prior to exiting, the sentinel in charge inspects the outgoing Guards weapon and then they exit the Tomb area together.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier happens every hour while the cemetery is open. It really is quite an emotional experience.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The laying of wreaths and flowers are a great sign of respect at funerals and gravestones world wide, and every hour they have a ceremony to honor Unknown Fallen with a new wreath of flowers.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The older wreath that was on display is removed and then placed on the ground in front of the Tomb prior to the ceremony beginning.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The sentinel in charge and a bugler march out in front of the crowd and the sentinel announces that the wreath ceremony will begin and everyone is to remain standing and quiet during the entire ceremony.

After the new wreath is place on the stand, the bugler plays Taps and everyone either renders a salute or places their hands over their hearts. There is something that gets me every time I hear Taps play, but this was so much more of an incredible and emotional experience being a part of the ceremony and hearing Taps play and witnessing this in the rain.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


Civil War Unknown

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The book I have been traveling and taking pictures for is about the Civil War, so I had to make sure and visit the monument for the Civil War Unknown.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


This memorial was dedicated in September of 1866 and it lays atop a vault that contains the remains of 2,111 soldiers gathered from the fields of Bull Run and the route to the Rappahannock.

The inscription on the monument reads:

BENEATH THIS STONE
REPOSE THE BONES OF TWO THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND ELEVEN UNKNOWN SOLDIERS
GATHERED AFTER THE WAR
FROM THE FIELDS OF BULL RUN, AND THE ROUTE TO THE RAPPAHANOCK,
THEIR REMAINS COULD NOT BE IDENTIFIED. BUT THEIR NAMES AND DEATHS ARE
RECORDED IN THE ARCHIVES OF THEIR COUNTRY, AND ITS GRATEFUL CITIZENS
HONOR THEM AS OF THEIR NOBLE ARMY OF MARTYRS. MAY THEY REST IN PEACE.
SEPTEMBER. A. D. 1866.

It is pretty sobering to think that there are the remains of 2,111 soldiers in the vault underneath the monument.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


Walking around the cemetery

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I spent quite some time just walking and thinking about all of the sacrifices that these men and women have made for our country. The sheer number of gravestones is overwhelming and so many people take advantage of the sacrifices that have been made throughout the history of our country.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


The more than 400,000 men and women that are buried here at Arlington are just a small percentage of the ones that have given their lives in defense of this country and its values. I have been to numerous graveyards over the past few weeks and learned of the tens of thousands of those that are buried there.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


No matter what country you are in, there have been brave men and women give their lives in defense what they believe in. It is up to you to make sure that you honor their sacrifices and make sure that their memories remain.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


They may be gone, but they will never be forgotten.


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Photo taken by me @derangedvisions


Thank you for taking the time to read my post and learn about my experiences at Arlington National Cemetery. I really appreciate it.


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Thanks for this post! I have never had the chance to go and see this. I hope one day I can and show my respect to all my brothers and sisters that have paid the ultimate sacriface for the freedoms we enjoy today. Hooah!

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It is truly amazing. You won't regret it at all. It was the highlight of my trip.

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Thank you @princessmewmew. It is awesome to be a part of such an amazing and supportive community like ADSACTLY. All of you are awesome.

Aawww. I love your photographs, sir. You always show us emotions thru your photos. This is my favorite post of yours. Much love and respect 😍💖

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Thank you. I really appreciate that.

Hi derangedvisions,

Your post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Keep creating awesome stuff! Have a great day :)

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Thank you so much. Everyone @curie is doing awesome things for this platform.

I love these photos, mostly of the Tomb Guards. They look very nice and serious. You are right in some cemeteries we feel a lot of peace, but it is also a sad fact. I feel very sad for these young soldiers loosing their lives every year for no reason :( They could live normal and have a family if the world could live in peace.

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Thank you for taking the time to visit my post and I am glad you liked my photography.

That's an amazing tour you're going on. I've never been to the DC area. Thanks for keep us updated on your progress!

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Thanks brother. I knew all of you guys in the Vet Discord would appreciate all of the pictures from the trip as I have gone place to place.

It's been near 40 years since I was there, and just looking at your photographs I felt the feeling again. I was there in February, 1980. It was a bleak day with intermittent rain. I was at the tomb all by myself for two full changes of the guard. I was in Arlington for over 4 hours. It is, in my experience, unique. In feeling and in fact.

Thank you for such a touching remembrance.

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Thank you @bigtom13. I am glad that I was able to transport you back in time for a bit. The first day I went it was so sunny and the mood didn't feel right, so when I found out that there was going to be rain the next day I was so excited to cancel all of my other plans in the city and go back to the cemetery for the day and be there in the rain. I sat in the rain for 2 wreath changing and and 3 changing of the guards there. It was like the sky was crying over all of the soldiers that were there at the cemetery. It was an incredible emotional experience. I finally felt peace and close to all of the brothers that I had lost during my time at war and those that I have lost since.

Your stories and the passion in which you share them never cease to amaze me. You continue to make your posts so real and heart touching. I can only imagine the emotion it must bring out visiting the cemetery. We have a tomb of the unknown soldier here in Ottawa, Canada that sits in front of our War Memorial. It is across the street from Parliament Hill. Thanks so much for sharing!

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Thank you. I really appreciate the comment and that you took the time to read over the post. I would love to visit Ottawa and see your Unknown Soldier memorial. There is something special about taking the time to honor the fallen that remain unidentified.

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Another amazing post about the history and memories! These shots are so full of emotions. I especially love the lonely bird and flower one. And congrats on the @curie vote, you deserve it! =)

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Thank you. That bird was awesome. I have a lot of pictures of it hopping from headstone to headstone.

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This is once again a beautiful and well crafted post. Especially the part about the guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier tells an impressive story that commands respect indeed, not only of the guards and their craft themselves, but also the soldiers who found their final resting place there. I said it before, I am strongly opposed against anything to do with warfare, but am convinced that you, the soldiers, deserve all the respect that oozes from your words and images.

Thanks for a great read, and thanks for pointing out that love for one's people is your driving force, not lust for war.

You have my gratitude and respect sir! :-) <3

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Thank you. Most soldiers hate war more than the normal citizen because they are the ones with everything to lose when it comes down to it. I understand that you are opposed to war, as one should be, but the world us full of evil people and there needs to be a force in place to keep that evil in check.

I was stationed there when I was in the "presidental honor guard" (Old Guard) E co 3rd US Inf. Dressed in blues for funerals and wreath laying ceremonies for visiting heads of state. Taking me down memory lane... did ya get to see the clydesdales, the wedding chapel where JFK's funeral was held or the eternal flame?

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That is awesome that you were stationed here. I bet that was one of the highlights of your career. No I did not see the clydesdales or any of the other things you mentioned. There is so much here to see. When I was in Arlington I spent so much time at the Tomb and then getting pictures for the book about the Civil War stuff.

The 24/7 honour guard is pretty special to see. You have seen it in rain. I have seen it in sun. Do they still stand guard in winter storms? And what happens to all the old wreaths?

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I am not sure what happens with the old wreaths. As far as guarding the Tomb, the Tomb is guarded, and has been guarded, every minute of every day since 1937. They have stood guard over it during hurricanes and other very bad storms and weather.

It was erroneously reported that during Hurricane Isabel, the Sentinels were ordered to abandon their posts for shelter and that they refused. No such order was ever given. All proper precautions were taken to ensure the safety of the Sentinels while accomplishing their mission. Risk assessments are constantly conducted by the Chain of Command during changing conditions to ensure that soldier welfare is maintained during mission accomplishment. source

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This is so awesome. It is something to see and leaves a lasting impression.

I came here to finish my reading and I'm so happy to see it curied... well deserved. You told it took you days and it does really show. The photographs with the bird and withered rose stirs the feelings in me. I somehow enjoy the melancholic air of cemeteries... somehow and it may strikes as odd, they remind me to enjoy life, as well will face same fate. Seize the day... So I do not feel sad, but alive to be living. But I agree that cemetery is another kind, the modern look, and the overwhelming amount of headstones... also all similar... in many ways... as we are all worth in what we sacrificed.
I enjoyed learning about the the guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and also how calculated and precise those march are, the 21 steps and seconds. Also I didn't know that background about you, to be honest...

With all respect
and glad to see the recognition to the post... :)

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I am glad that you liked those certain photographs. Some times I get lucky with the animals. The other photographers that are working on the book with me always make fun of me for stopping and taking pictures of the animals or the bugs. They don't know how I am able to spot some of them.

I am glad that you learned something from my post. I really appreciate the comment and the time you took reading it.

Heya, just swinging by to let you know you're being featured in our Daily Travel Digest!

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Awesome. Thank you.

Hey Dude... this is an awesome Post... i was on such places in my country but they mostly rotten.. we have some graves from unknown Soldiers here but nearly nobody is taking a look for... in my country you dont be a Hero when you talking about you be a Veteran... In this country you get hatet for what you doin, most dont understand why Dudes like me to this way treough the ARMY of today, as long they cant respect the Military of today they cant respect the fallen of the time before us...

im proud to see there much other ways to have a life as a Vet today.....

We have something similar in which the Rizal monument in Rizal park in Manila has an honor guard protecting the monument where our national hero, Jose Rizal, was shot and became a martyr.

I have watched the changing of the guard ceremony so I can feel what you have described here.

Such a solemn ceremony.

Thank you for sharing with us your trip and it is always good to see how much of a quality content creator you are.

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Thanks @maverickinvictus. It would be cool to see pictures from a visit you take out to your nation's monument for Jose Rizal.

I think my maternal grandfather may be buried in Arlington. Thank you for sharing this sobering experience here on Steemit.