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Arlington National Cemetery, which, while not strictly within the District of Columbia–but rather in Virginia–is considered to be part of the visit to the city.


Arlington Cemetery is utterly unique and is the final resting place of those who died in wars fought by the United States, dating from the American Civil War to current conflicts. It is quite unlike any other cemetery because there are no decorative differences to the graves. They are all free from special distinctions or ranks and feature identical gravestones that are laid out in neat rows.


Once a year, on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day, a United States flag is placed on every grave.


The cemetery is divided into seventy sections, one of which is dedicated to victims of terrorism, one to nurses and another to war chaplains, while Confederate soldiers from the South who died in the American Civil War are buried in a special area.


The Arlington Memorial Amphitheater is also found in this vast cemetery spanning over 24 hectares. It is a striking circular amphitheater made from white Vermont-quarried marble that is surrounded by a double colonnade.

The columns feature Doric capitals, while the architraves and friezes are Ionic to allow for the inscriptions that list the 44 major battles of the Civil War.

The lowest level features a “klismos”, a type of ancient Greek chair meant for rulers, and you’ll also notice that the stage and amphitheater are designed so that the person speaking must look down during funeral ceremonies and celebrations.


I’ll leave you with an interesting fact: the four tombs of the unknown soldier–one for the First World War, one for the Second, one for the Korean conflict and the last for the Vietnam War–are part of the amphitheater. However, one is empty because during the presidency of Bill Clinton, DNA analysis was carried out on the soldier buried inside, leading to his identification. So, the remains of young Michael Blassie were returned to his family.

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