Two weeks before he was laid to rest here, President John Kennedy visited the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery to lay a wreath on Armistice Day (now known as Veteran’s Day).
In a visit earlier in the year he had commented that the view from this spot on the hill before Arlington House was so magnificent that he could stay forever.
Jacqueline Kennedy requested the eternal flame, similar to the one she had seen for the French Unknown Soldier in Paris.
The Old Amphitheater was dedicated on the first Memorial Day holiday in 1868. The podium section is called the Rostrum and includes the inscription “E pluribus unum” or “Out of many, one”. The amphitheater was used for speeches and ceremonies until 1921 when the larger Memorial Amphitheater was completed.
Pierre Charles L’Enfant was born in France, trained as a painter in the Royal Academy in the Louvre, and served in King Louis XV’s court. At 23 in 1777 he was recruited to join the American Revolution. He later served with General Washington, including the brutal winter in Valley Forge.
He’s best known however for laying out the city of Washington DC.
He died in 1825, but it was not until 1909 that he was reinterred atop the hill before Arlington House, overlooking the city he helped design.
Members of the Army’s 3rd Infantry, known as the Old Guard, watch over the Tomb of the Unknowns 24 hours a day, everyday. They perform a precise walk along the mat, with their rifle held on the side of the crowd to show the they stand between the tomb and any possible threat. Here the guard is performing a shoulder-arms to make the change. They call this position “rocked out”.
First and foremost Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place for men and women who’ve served our country. It’s solemn place for reflection on sacrifice.
Share and enjoy. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.