Arlington National Cemetery and its link to Memorial Day
- US will mark its 154th Memorial Day on Monday
- Arlington was set up during the civil war era
- US Presidents usually speak at Arlington on Memorial Day
The United States will mark its 154th Memorial Day on Monday. Following tradition, the Arlington National Cemetery will be at the center of multiple events scheduled for the day.
The Arlington National Cemetery is located in Virginia right next to the Potomac River. It is spread across roughly 639 acres and is known to be one of the largest and oldest cemeteries in the United States.
What is the historical significance of Arlington National Cemetery?
The cemetery has its roots deep in American history. Its origins reportedly date back to the civil war, which resulted in at least 500,000 deaths. Many of the fallen soldiers were buried here.
While the original size of the cemetery was roughly 200 acres, it has been expanded threefold. In modern times, it is also used for members of the United States armed forces.
Arlington officially became a national cemetery on June 15, 1864, by order of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, the official website of the cemetery says.
How is it connected to Memorial Day?
Thousands of people gather at the Arlington National Cemetery to recognise the sacrifices of American soldiers. People also decorate their graves with candles, flags and handwritten letters that are left at the headstone.
Old Guard service members plant flags in front of approximately 280,000 headstones and the bottom of about 7,000 niches (for cremated remains) rows. This is a tradition that has been in place since 1948, the official website of the cemetery says.
US Presidents also traditionally give speeches at the Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. This year, Joe Biden will be delivering his second address as President at the site.
The Memorial Day Observation Ceremony at Arlington also includes a prelude from the United States Marine Corps band, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and an observance ceremony.