Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Great DC Adventure: Cemetery Caching

The second day of our adventure brought us to the wrought iron gates of three very different but amazing cemeteries in the DC Area. We were blessed with sunny walks through historic headstones on cobblestone paths shaded by flowering trees.

It was as ideal as it sounds. And, oh! The history!

Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, VA

624 acres alongside the Potomac River, Arlington National Cemetery was a highlight of our historical tour. TaGeez and I arrived early and, taking advantage of the hop-on tour trolley, pretty much covered all of it.

Arlington is home to some of the most interesting
Virtual geocaches to date.

First stop on the tour was President Kennedy and family and the Eternal flame.  

This popular destination is at the foot of the hill where the Lee Mansion is located. The tour guide said all flags are at half mast out of respect of the 25 or so burials for the day. When the burials are complete, the flags will return to full mast until the end of day.

The guides also explained that Arlington Cemetery was created out of spite. General Robert E. Lee, who never owned property but managed his wife's property, sided with the Confederacy because he could not fight against his comrades. In turn, Lee's former schoolmate, General Montgomery Meigs, angered at Lee's defection, confiscated the property and turned it into a squatters field for soldiers whose family could not afford to ship their loved ones home for burial.

One of the best views of Washington DC. That's Arlington Memorial Drive, the Lincoln Monument and the Washington Monument (knows to TaGeez as 'the big stick') in the background.

Can you see the airplane?

This is my second trip to Arlington, and I found the Tomb of the Unknown Civil War Soldiers to be as moving as the last time. Located out the back door of the Lee House, here are the remains of '2,111 soldiers gathered from the fields of Bull Run and the route to the Rappahannock'.

Lockerbie Memorial Cairn

We arrived in time to see the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Silent. Beautiful.

Across from the Amphitheater is the memorial to the USS Maine and the Space Shuttle Challenger.

Our final stop is the Marine Corps memorial outside Arlington's gates. We had the honor of visiting the graves of three of the flag bearers interred in Arlington.

The Congressional Cemetery (AKA Washington Parish Burial Ground) - Washington DC

Our next stop was Congressional Cemetery, right in town and accessible via some of the worst traffic jams we've ever experienced. This eclectic garden cemetery is not only beloved by the locals but the local dogs. Yes, for a membership fee, you can walk your canine friend among the markers. 

In addition to the headstones were several mausoleums. The Public Vault in particular caught my attention.

The Public Vault at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C. is an early classical revival structure built 1832–34 with funds appropriated by the United States Congress to store the bodies of government officials and members of the public before burial. About 4,600 individuals were temporarily interred in the vault, including three U.S. Presidents, First Lady Dolly Madison, and sixteen congressmen who died while serving in office. (Wikipedia)
The Congressional Cemetery is called "The Congressional Cemetery" because of so many members of Congress are buried here. Many are commemorated by these 4-sided markers throughout the grounds.

John Quincy Adams

Tip O'Neill

Near the back of the cemetery is the Lummi Nation Peace Totem Pole, erected to commemorate the 9/11 victims and to initiate healing of the nation.

Did I mention is was a dog park?

One of the most notable residents is John Philip Sousa and family.

But one of the more interesting resting places involved a Vietnam Veteran.

Which is right down the path from one of DC's most powerful former occupants, J. Edgar Hoover. The wrought iron fence was smithed by a former FBI agent, and you, like TaGeez, could rest your weary feet on the FBI bench right in front of the enclosure.

Old Presbyterian Meeting House Cemetery - Alexandria, VA

Rounding out our second day in DC was dinner in lovely old town Alexandria. Along one side street was the Old Presbyterian Meeting House and Burial Ground. 

Home of an unknown Revolutionary War soldier. 

Three very different cemeteries within miles of each other. So much history entombed here. 

Next stop? Monuments of DC.

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