Things to Know about Arlington Cemetery

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A visit to Arlington Cemetery is on the tour list for most every visitor to Washington DC. Everyone knows that they want to see the Changing of the Guard and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, but most people don’t really understand the powerful feelings that this visit brings until you actually walk through the massive Cemetery. If you are planning a visit to Washington DC, here are some things to know about Arlington National Cemetery to help you plan your visit.

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Things to know about Arlington Cemetery - Washington DC

Things to Know about Arlington Cemetery

The Cemetery is Massive!

Arlington National Cemetery is a large cemetery and is situated on a hill. This means that to get to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and John F Kennedy’s grave, you will have quite a walk. So wear proper shoes and take some water if you go during the summer months.

It’s best to take a look at a map of the cemetery before you begin your walk so you will know where to go.

Things to know about Arlington Cemetery - Washington DC

Arlington National Cemetery is a United States military cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., in whose 624 acres the dead of the nation’s conflicts have been buried, beginning with the Civil War, as well as reinterred dead from earlier wars.

The Changing of the Guard

During peak tourist season the Changing of the Guard occurs on every half hour. It will take you about 30 minutes to walk to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and there is typically quite a crowd that gathers to observe this somber act of patriotism. Allow yourself time to hike to the top of the hill and then be prepared to wait a few minutes.

It is a surreal experience as you stand in the crowd and watch the solitary soldier pace back and forth in guard of this symbolic tomb. You can look across the city and see the Pentagon from the vantage point of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Arlington Cemetery - Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

There is nothing quite like the feeling of watching the guards change, hearing Taps being played or watching the wreath ceremony to stir you to patriotism and make you proud to be an American. When you think of the responsiblity that our military take on themselves every day in their fight to defend and protect our great nation, you find this ceremony to be especially moving.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Arlington Cemetery - Washington DC
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

John F Kennedy’s Grave

Another highlight of a visit to Arlington Cemetery is the opportunity to pay respects to President John F Kennedy and see the eternal flame that marks his gravesite.

President John F Kennedy's Grave and Eternal Flame - Arlington Cemetery
President Kennedy’s Grave and Eternal Flame

Other Highlights of Arlington Cemetery

We love exposing our children to the heroes of our American history and just recently took a trip to visit the homeplace of Sgt. Alvin C. York in Tennessee. As the most decorated soldier in World War I, that was an important place to visit.

But on our trip to Arlington, we took the time to visit the gravesite of the most decorated soldier from World War II, Audie Murphy. You may have seen the movie of his life or read his book “To Hell and Back”. If not, this is something that should be seen and read by every American.

Gravesite of Audie Murphy
Gravesite of Audi Murphy

Find Arlington Cemetary

Arlington National Cemetery is located across the Memorial Bridge from Washington, D.C., on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, VA 22211


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  1. Historical things the things at Arlington Cemetery with the changing of the guard and the tomb of the unknown soldier are so exciting. I would love to go there and see all the things I’ve heard or read about. What a mind full of knowledge we would have upon leaving there. Bucket list.

  2. I would love to visit Arlington one day. I spend a lot of time in the Tahoma National Cemetery here in Washington where my dad is buried and always marvel at how big it is.Arlington is absolutely a giant compared to it though!

  3. ive never been here and im from texas probably like 250 miles from there ive always wanted to go such a heartbreaking story of all these lives lost i mean wow so powerful feeling

  4. A nice historical pace to visit to remember and reflect !we should always make sure its passed on from generation to generation.

  5. I haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit Arlington but it is definitely something on my bucket list.

  6. I have family in VA that I am planning to visit and would love to stop at the Arlington cemetery.

  7. I’ve been so fortunate to have visited Arlington Cemetary when I lived in that area. It’s always so beautiful & well-kept! Loved watching the guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and was mesmerized by JFK’s eternal flame.

  8. I would love to take my kids to Washington DC! I went for a school trip in the 8th grade and will never forget it.

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