Monday, October 6, 2008

Who's in Arlington National Cemetery

It's great to come back to Washington, DC, for a visit. I was born and raised in the so-called DC Metropolitan area. I believe most people think of Presidents and Politicians when they hear of Washington, DC. However, it is a city of mostly ordinary "Main Street" characters who were born, grew up, lived and worked here. Like my family. Actually, I was born on Cameron Street in Alexandria, VA, just south of DC. They call it George Washington's home town. One can ride a bicycle from Alexandria City to his former plantation at the end of the Mt. Vernon Trail which runs beside the Purple Heart Highway.

When I was 6 years old we moved to Bethesda, Maryland, on the north side of DC, in Montgomery County. I must mention that Hubert H. Humphrey, Junior, that's the former VP's son, was in my 7th grade class at Kensington Junior High. I wouldn't have even known that, but I recognized his family's portrait in the newspaper one day. I graduated from the University of Maryland in College Park, and afterwards migrated to other parts of the country. However, I never went back to DC except for visits to my family- and research at the National Archives. Now, instead of bedding at relatives and taking the Metro Subway to the National Archives, I can sit in front of my computer and access the U.S. census records on the Internet. But I still miss the real life adventure.

I am visiting my family again in the DC Metro area, and while here, I took a day's tour of the Arlington National Cemetery and took some of the following pictures. I saved my legs and took a tram around the cemetery and listened to some very good and entertaining interpreters. Can I use the word "entertaining" while visiting the resting places of some of the greatest heroes of our country? If you are a genealogist, you'll agree in the affirmative.

I watched the changing of the guard at the tombs of the Unknown Soldiers. Of course the tombs are guarded 24 seven. One is impressed by the precision and dedication of these guards from nearby Fort Myers. When the soldiers halt and do a right face or an about face, they swing out one straight leg and bring it back sharply making a loud clack with their heels. Their shoe heels are built up of several layers of leather on the inside step in order to take this constant pounding. Also, the guards have to be between 5 ft, 8 inches and 6 ft, 2 inches tall, AND be able to fit into a 29 inch belt- it's the only size of belt issued. I meet the first criterion but fall just a tad short of the second.

The four plaques of the Kennedy family and the Eternal Flame is a solemn place. From far corner to your left:

  • "Daughter", August 23, 1956
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 1917-1963
  • Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, 1929-1994. I had to check those dates twice, as I didn't realize that Jackie was 11 years younger than her husband.
  • Patrick Bouvier Kennedy, August 7, 1963- August 9, 1963

There is a lengthy list of criteria for burial at Arlington, but only minor children under the age of 21 can be interred next to their parents. That is why JFK's adult children can not be buried here. Son, "John John" Kennedy, was cremated and his ashes strewn off of Martha's vineyard. (Read here the eligibility requirements for ground burial)

Former Senator Robert Kennedy is buried just down the hill from his brother in a very unassuming grave, marked by a flat stone and a simple white cross.

On the hill above the Kennedy's Eternal Flame is the Curtis Lee Manson which is being renovated as a museum. From the mansion, you have a great panoramic view of Washington, DC, on the opposite side of the Potomac river. From the left, if you're somewhat familiar with the city, you can see the Lincoln Memorial, the tall pointed Washington Monument, The Capital, and the Jefferson Memorial.

An urn containing the ashes of my daughter's father-in-law was placed (inurnment) at Arlington Cemetery this past spring, on 8 Apr 2008 (see above image). He was Henry Francis "Bud" Collins, 187th Regional Combat unit, Korean Conflict.

Other members of our extended family buried at Arlington are:

  • Norma Jean HONADLE, nee. KOEHLER, daughter of Robert Koehler and Helen RUSSELL, Section 66, Grave 6920.
  • John Albert HONADLE, Major, USAF, husband of Norma Jean
  • William Lewis KRAMP, Air Police SQ, USAF, Section 41, Grave 1179
  • Doroth Marie PARKE, nee. KRAMP, wife of John.
  • John T. PARKE, TEC 5, US Army, WW II

My last stop at Arlington was the museum inside the Curtis Lee Mansion. On one wall of the mansion were family trees for the Curtis-Lee Family (on left of chart) and the family of George Washington, first president of the United States.

I'm just a little dishevelled and unorganized here on the road, borrowing a friends computer to upload this entry. So, I will finish reading the tourist brochures and add to this entry at a more comfortable time. In the meantime, I found a more complete, interactive presentation of the Family Tree on the Internet here.


Description and pictures of Curtis Lee mansion (Arlington House) by the National Park Service.

The Official web site of Arlington National Cemetery

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