Facts about Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery is a military cemetery covering 624 acres. During the American Civil War, it was founded in 1864 on land owned by Arlington House in Arlington, Virginia. There are war casualties and deceased veterans buried there, as well as those who died in wars prior to the Civil War and were dug up and reburied at Arlington. It was chosen as a cemetery site because it was beautiful land, high and dry, and had a good view of the District of Columbia. After refusing to accept payment of taxes on Mary Lee’s behalf, the government purchased the property at a tax sale. Her son later won a lawsuit against the US government, only to sell it back to them for a profit.
Arlington National Cemetery was built on land owned by Confederate General Robert E. Lee. His wife, Mary Anna Lee, was the great-granddaughter of Martha Washington, the wife of George Washington, the first president of the United States.
Mary Lee received the property from Martha Washington’s grandson, Washington Parke Curtis, who left it to her to use but not sell.
William Henry Christman was the first soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery in 1864.
The first African American soldier was also buried there in 1864, but the exact date and name of the soldier are unknown.
The southern portion of the property was used to house freed slaves during and after the Civil War. They were evicted when the government took over the land.
The property was purchased by the government at a tax sale in 1864 for $26,800. At today’s prices, that equates to around $400,000.
When Mary Lee’s son won a lawsuit against the government, he resold the property to the US government for $150,000, which is about $3,188,636 in today’s dollars.
They had to increase the original land size several times to accommodate the number of people buried at Arlington Cemetery.
Each year, approximately 5,000 funerals are held at Arlington Cemetery.
Every year, over 4 million people visit Arlington National Cemetery.
Arlington House is now a memorial to Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general who married Mary Lee, Martha Washington’s great-granddaughter.
Arlington National Cemetery isn’t the largest cemetery in the United States. Long Island’s U.S. Calverton National Cemetery in New York is the largest.
Arlington also holds the graves of the seven astronauts who died aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1986.
Near the Challenger’s burials is a memorial to the astronauts who died on the Columbia.
To be buried at Arlington, one must be an active, retired, or former member of the armed forces, a Medal of Honor recipient, or a high-ranking government official, or a member of their family.
There are approximately 5,000 soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery whose names are unknown.
The cemetery is expected to be full by 202, at which point it will become a national shrine.
Arlington National Cemetery has an unnamed tomb as a memorial to those who died in World Wars I and II, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars. Although it has not been officially named, it is commonly known as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.