WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 12, 2014) – “Arlington at 150” is the theme for sesquicentennial celebrations at Arlington National Cemetery, slated to run from tomorrow to June 16.
The first event will begin at 9 a.m., tomorrow, with a wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Army Pvt. William Christman, the first military burial at Arlington. The location is Section 27, by the Ord and Weitzel Gate.
Christman died of rubella on May 11, 1864, just a year before the Civil War ended. His death from illness, not from battle wounds, was not uncommon during that time, when sanitary conditions and medical treatment were substandard compared to today.
The cemetery itself consists of 624 acres in Arlington, Va., overlooking the Potomac River and the nation’s capital.
The property belonged to Gen. Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. In May 1864, the Army of the Potomac seized his estate and subsequently used it for burial of Union Soldiers.
However, it wasn’t until June 15, 1864, when Arlington officially became a national cemetery.
Other events include:
• A lecture on the history of Arlington National Cemetery at the Women In Military Service for America Memorial, 10:30 a.m. to noon, May 13
• Renaming ceremony for the Old Amphitheater and Decoration Day observance,
5 p.m., May 30
• “Arlington at 150 Observance Program: A tribute to Arlington’s Past, Present and Future,” featuring historical vignettes and musical performances, pre-show, 8 p.m., June 13
• Final event: Wreath-laying ceremony, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 9 a.m., June 16
“We are hoping for maximum attendance as all events are free and open to the public,” Lynch said.
In addition to the official events, Arlington has partnered with Arlington National Cemetery Tours by Martz Gray Line to provide a series of narrated tours exploring Arlington’s rich history, according to Jennifer Lynch, Arlington National Cemetery director of public affairs.
Tours are $9 per person and include transportation around the cemetery, a speaker and a narrator from the Arlington National Cemetery History Office. “These tours are perfect for individuals or groups,” Lynch said.
Tickets for “Arlington at 150” tours are available for purchase at http://www.anctours.com/Arlingtonat150.php, or by calling 202-488-1012.
The tour schedule is:
• The American Civil War, 2-5 p.m., May 19, and June 2
• Uncle Sam’s Little Wars, 2-5 p.m., May 20
• World War I: Bringing our Heroes Home, 2-5 p.m., May 21, and June 3
• World War II: The Greatest Generation, 2- p.m., May 22
• U.S. Military and the Cold War, 2-5 p.m., May 23
• Late 20th Century to the Present, 2-5 p.m., June 4
• Monuments and Memorials, 2-5 p.m., June 5
• Medal of Honor, 2-5 p.m., June 6