The entrance to Arlington National Cemetery extends across the Potomac River to near the Lincoln Memorial
at the eastern edge of the Memorial Bridge. The Memorial Bridge, Memorial Drive (the parkway which leads into
Arlington Cemetery), and the magnificent entrance to the cemetery were designed as a single project and were
dedicated together on January 16, 1932 by President Herbert Hoover.
The Memorial Bridge was intended as a symbolic link, binding the North and South together into one great Union.
The theme of national unity continued as Architects McKim, Meade & White designed the bridge to extend
along an axis joining two great symbols of our nation: the Lincoln Memorial and the Robert E. Lee Memorial at
Connecting the bridge to the cemetery gates is a parkway known as Memorial Drive. Along this parkway is the rotary
intersection with the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which leads to the first president's home at Mt. Vernon.
At night, as visitors approach Arlington along Memorial Drive, the eternal flame, which marks President
John Kennedy's grave, is visible on the hillside. Also located along Memorial Drive are several memorials
and monuments not formally part of Arlington Cemetery. These include the Seabees
Memorial, the Armored Memorial, the United Spanish War Veterans Memorial (the Hiker), monument
to Admiral Richard Evelyn Byrd, the 101st Airborne Division Memorial, and the
4 Infantry (IVY) Division Monument. Near the Seabees Memorial is the Arlington Cemetery Metro subway stop.
Memorial Drive ends in a sculpted court that has been partially excavated from the steep hillside below Arlington
At the western end of the court is the Hemicycle, a semicircular retaining wall which rises 30 feet and is 226 feet in diameter. In the center of this wall is a large semicircular niche that measures 20 feet across and 30 feet high. In the center of the niche is a bas-relief of the Great Seal of the United States. On either side of the Great Seal are seals of the Department of the Army and the Department of the Navy, with the Army on the south side and the Navy on the north.
The Hemicycle now forms the exterior wall of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial. The memorial was dedicated in 1997 to honor nearly two million women who have served in the United States Armed Forces.
From the court, roads lead both north and south through a pair of large ornate wrought iron gates in each direction. The set of gates on the north is called Schley Gate after Admiral Winfield Scott Schley. The set on the south side is called Roosevelt Gate in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt. In the center of each gate is mounted a gold wreath, 30 inches in diameter. Set within each wreath is a shield with the seal of one of the military services. On the Roosevelt Gate are the seals for the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Army. Mounted on the Schley Gate are the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard seals. When the gates were installed, the United States Air Force was still a branch of the Army and so its own seal does not appear.
The Memorial Bridge, Memorial Drive, the memorials, and monuments which line that drive, the Memorial Entrance, and the Robert E. Lee Memorial (Arlington House) all fall within
the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior.
Peters, James Edward. Arlington National Cemetery: Shrine to America's Heroes. Woodbine House, 2000.