unbekannter Gast

Arlington National Cemetery, the most famous graveyard of the USA#

by

Günther Jontes

All photos shown were taken by the author in 2001 and are part of his archive "Pictureflood Jontes". Austria-Forum and Global-Geography.org are grateful to be allwoed to use text and pictures.

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Every nation commemorates dead soldiers in a special way. They find their final resting place near their battlefield or they are brought home. War cemeteries and war memorials have different roles in vanquished nations and in nations that emerged victorious from the war. Some persons are still filled with so much hatred against their enemies that they destroy soldiers’ graves or they are belitteling the death of their soldiers afterwards. Today such monuments and sites which should really be memorials against wars are still often exposed to desecration. Suum cuique!

The United States of America maintain a special cult concerning their dead soldiers. It is an indication of the strong patriotism of Americans. This strong patriotism can be well-observed on the 139 national cemeteries in the United States. The largest and most impressive cemetery is the Arlington National Cemetery in the federal state Virginia across the Potomac River near the capital Washington D.C. It was set up in 1864 during the Civil War. With its area of 252 hectares it is the second largest cemetery in the United states.

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Each active member of the US armed forces is allowed to find the final resting place in this cemetery and also every peson who has been honourably discharged from the service. Furthermore, they must have been awarded a medal for bravery such as the Medal of Honour, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Navy or the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star, the Purple Heart. Also widows have the right to be buried next to their husbands.

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The straight aligned grave stones contain in addition to name, CV and rank also the root number, the religious confession, the awards given and the campaign in which their death occurred. There is one exception with regard to the most famous American boxer, the heavyweight champion Joe Luis who can be seen in a bronze relief. Higher ranks have larger and individually designed memorials.

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Whole bodies of troop have their own monuments in commemoration of their soldiers killed in action.

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Side by side are the monuments commemorating the crew killed during the unsuccessful launch of the space shuttle Challenger in 1986 and the monument for those who were killed in action during the vain attempt to rescue diplomats of the US embassy in Teheran who were taken hostage.

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The Arlington Memorial Theatre is a circular neoclassical building for commemorative events. It seats up to 5000 persons and contains the tomb of the unknown soldier which today is called Memorial of the Unknown. The unknown soldier who was buried here was identified by recent DNS analysis. He was replaced by an unknown dead of the Vietnam War. The change of the guard of honour takes place every hour with calculated precision.

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The Presidents of the United States and their relatives have also the right to be buried here. John F. Kennedy murdered on November 22nd,1963 rests here with his widow Jackie Kennedy Onassis, his children and his murdered brother Robert. An eternal flame burns at his grave which is situated exactly on the axis of Arlington Memorial Bridge and Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

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