On my recent getaway to DC, we took an entire day to visit Arlington Cemetery. Arlington is one of the places I’ve always been interested in visiting since I learned it’s history and connection to American hero, General R.E. Lee, so many years ago.
I realize what I say might make some of you unhappy, but I was really disappointed in the whole thing.
First, Lee’s home was closed for renovation and they don’t expect it to be re-opened until late 2019 or 2020. Honestly, the home is the main reason I’ve always wanted to go. They tell you that you can still walk the grounds of the home, but it is surrounded by a tall fence with a sort of curtain (you can see what I mean by the picture) – so you can’t really even see the house while you’re up next to it. You can see it from a distance at many places around the park – but it’s not the same.
Secondly, the park claimed to have “artifacts from the home” at the Women in War Memorial – but those artifacts amounted to some brochures of what you can’t see because of the renovation. The Women in War Memorial was also a pretty sad presentation, especially in light of all the amazing things women have contributed to the US War effort from the beginning of US History. Yeah…if you go to Arlington, skip the Women in War Memorial. You can find far better content on the interwebbynet.
I know I’m supposed to tell you how awesome the JFK Memorial is, but…eh, It was a slab of rock and a flame. I was not impressed in the least.
We took the bus tour – which I can’t say I recommend. Oh, it was nice not to be walking around the entire thing and UP the hills, but we whizzed through most of the grounds just getting from one stop to the next. Out of the 400,000-ish tombstones at Arlington, they mentioned only about 10 “in passing,” and about 8 of them were “First African American” this or “first woman” that, that is seemed like such a blatant attempt – to me – to ignore any others of note that weren’t either women or black. One memorial (I assume it was a white guy, but I don’t know who it was) was mentioned twice simply so the tour guide could mention that the person in question thought Lee was a traitor. And yes, he really did make a point to say it twice. Why? What was the point of that?
The highlight probably will not surprise you. It was, of course, the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is pretty somber to watch the guard march back and forth, guarding the tomb. The attention to detail by the soldiers in the ceremony is pretty incredible. It made the entire trip to the park worth it, and I highly recommend you stay for the ceremony if you get to visit the cemetery.
Even though I was overall disappointed, I’m still glad I went because it was one of the things I’ve always wanted to do.
And now I have…thanks to my wife.
(pictures by her!)