Arlington National Cemetery caps 150th year at Tomb of the Unknowns
June 16, 2014
By J.D. Leipold
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WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Jun 16, 2014) -- A little more than one month ago, on May 13, Arlington National Cemetery began to commemorate the 150th anniversary of its establishment with a wreath-laying ceremony at the grave of Pvt. William H. Christman, a Union Soldier who was the first to be interred on the 624-acre grounds.
Today, Arlington National Cemetery held its final event of the 150th commemoration, by holding a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns. A crowd of visitors gathered around to witness the always-solemn ceremony.
"Arlington National Cemetery is a place where, for 150 years, our nation has been coming to remember the service, the sacrifice, and especially the ultimate sacrifice our members of the Armed Services have made," said Arlington National Cemetery Superintendent Jack E. Lechner Jr. "It's a place where Americans in common prove that we do remember, and that we will never forget."
"This is an amazing place," noted Sgt. Maj. Brenda Curfam, senior enlisted advisor for Army National Military Cemeteries. "The honor and respect that we show our fallen comrades here will continue for another 150 years and beyond. It's what we owe to our service men and women."
Throughout the last month, Arlington National Cemetery has held lectures on its history, and special guided tours of its monuments and memorials taking visitors through its first 150 years by paying tribute to the thousands of active-duty service members and veterans from The American Revolution thru the conflicts of the 21st century.
Also during the commemoration, Arlington National Cemetery's Old Amphitheater was renamed, during a May 30 ceremony. The amphitheater was renamed in honor of Union Cpl. James R. Tanner, who lost both legs at the Second Battle of Bull Run, in August 1862. Tanner spent the remainder of his life advocating for veterans and lobbying for the establishment of the American Red Cross, which occurred in 1904.
"It's just a special place and a national treasure," said Retired Lt. Col. Renea C. Yates, who serves as Arlington National Cemetery deputy superintendent for administration. "The executive director reminds us that every headstone [marks] a hero to someone; every headstone has a story and I know for my children and I, this place will always be special.
"It was special before my husband passed, and it's special for me to know I will be laid to rest here," she said. "I wish [Arlington National Cemetery] all the best as we move forward into the next 150 years."
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