Opened in 1864, it contains 400,000 graves of fallen soldiers and war veterans

Arlington, the largest military cemetery in the world and the grave where there is always a sentinel

The deadliest war that the United States of America has ever suffered was fought on its own territory: it was the Civil War (1861-1865).

The Monte Cassino Polish Military Cemetery, where the poppies drank Polish blood
The Berlin 1939–1945 War Cemetery that honors 3,595 allied soldiers

More than 600,000 Americans lost their lives in that war, most of them (about 360,000) on the northern side. Due to this high number of casualties, it became necessary to build more cemeteries. One of them settled in Arlington County, Virginia, near the Potomac River and on property that was confiscated from Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The first soldier buried there was William Henry Christman, only 19 years old (you can see his grave below these lines), who died on May 11, 1864 and belonged to the 67th Infantry Regiment of the Army of the Union.

Today, Arlington is the largest military cemetery in the world, with 400,000 graves spread over an area of 259 hectares (639 acres). Some 16,000 soldiers who fell in the Civil War, belonging to both sides, are buried in its fields. Soldiers and sailors who fell in the War of 1812 were also buried there

This enormous cemetery has housed the remains of fallen American soldiers in all subsequent wars, as well as the bodies of many veterans. Among the hundreds of thousands of soldiers buried there are also the tombs of two presidents: William Howard Taft (1857-1930) and John F. Kennedy (1917-1963).

One of the most famous sites in Arlington Military Cemetery is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (above), established on November 11, 1921, the third anniversary of the end of World War I. The tomb houses the remains of an American soldier who fell in that war and who could not be identified.

The custody of this tomb is assigned to the oldest unit of the US Army, the Third Infantry Regiment, created in 1784. Its nickname is "The Old Guard", and there is always a sentry from this unit next to that grave, even in the worst possible weather, as you can see in the following video, recorded during a storm with winds of up to 128 km/h:

The sentry takes 21 steps to one side and the other, stopping for 21 seconds before each turn, symbolizing the 21 shots fired in honor of the fallen. During these guard shifts, the sentinels do not wear any insignia of rank on their uniforms, so as to be no more than the last of the unknown soldiers to whom tribute is paid in that cemetery.

This same Regiment is in charge of placing US flags on each of the graves annually, on the occasion of Memorial Day, which is celebrated on the last Monday in May. You can see in this video that placement of the flags on the occasion of Memorial Day 2023.

Additionally, in Arlington there is a Civil War Tomb of the Unknown (on these lines). It was inaugurated in September 1866 and contains the remains of 2,111 soldiers who fell in that conflict in the fields of Bull Run and on the route to the Rappahannock River, who could not be identified.

Even today, burials continue to be made in this cemetery, at an average of between 27 and 30 per month. Among the graves at Arlington are those of 396 soldiers, sailors and airmen awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest US military decoration.


Photos: Arlington National Cemetery / Find a Grave.

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