By Ashley Topolosky, Digital Strategist, ANC Public Affairs Office
Are you planning on attending the Public Flower Ceremony as part of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration? If so, this blog post is for you! Below is everything you need to know about how to get to Arlington National Cemetery and how to participate.
The #Tomb100 Public Flower Ceremony will take place on Tuesday, November 9 and Wednesday, November 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is the first time in nearly 100 years that the public can access the Tomb Plaza to pay their respects by laying a flower of their choice at the base of the Tomb.
The first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you registered on Eventbrite at anctomb100.eventbrite.com. You can sign up for any time that is available between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The second thing you’ll want to determine is what type of flower you would like to bring. You are permitted one flower of any kind per person. No bouquets or wreaths, please. If you didn’t bring a flower, that’s okay! Roses, gerbera daisies, carnations and sunflowers will be distributed by volunteers near the Tomb.
So now let’s talk about how you’re going to get here. You have a few different options to enter the cemetery, and we encourage you to take public transportation.
• Arlington National Cemetery’s main entrance is located at 1 Memorial Ave. You can access this by taking the Metro (Blue Line) to the Arlington Cemetery stop, or you can drive and park in the Welcome Center parking garage. These are your best options if you are looking for minimal walking. Arlington Cemetery is the closest Metro stop to the Welcome Center and tram.
• If you are coming from the Rosslyn Metro stop (Orange/Silver/Blue Lines), you can enter by walking only at the Ord and Weitzel Gate near the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. It’s a 15- to 20-minute walk from the Metro station to the Ord and Weitzel Gate, and about a 10-minute walk from the gate to the Welcome Center and tram.
• If you are coming from either the Pentagon or the Pentagon City Metro stops (Yellow/Blue Lines), then you can enter by walking only at the 123 Service Complex Gate. This is about a 20-minute walk to the Welcome Center and tram.
• If you’re a DoD ID card holder, then you can access the cemetery through the Old Post Chapel Gate on Joint Base Meyer-Henderson Hall. This entrance is also for those walking. However, if you use this gate, your best option is to walk to the Tomb instead of taking the tram from the Welcome Center. It is about a 25-minute hilly walk from the Old Post Chapel Gate to the Tomb. If you’re a family pass holder, this gate and the main entrance on Memorial Ave. are the only vehicle access gates on Nov. 9-10.
No matter what entrance you use, please remember to bring a government-issued ID for the initial security screening.
We encourage you to take the tram from the Welcome Center to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Normally there is a charge for the tram; for the centennial, however, all tram rides are free to the Memorial Amphitheater. The flower ceremony event and the trams are ADA-accessible and stroller friendly. Once you arrive by tram at the Tomb, please follow cemetery staff directions and any directional signage you may see.
We’ve incorporated a few special experiences for while you’re waiting in line to pay your respects. You’ll see signs with facts about the Tomb around the Memorial Amphitheater area. On Facebook and Instagram stories, we’ll also be sharing interactive quizzes, puzzles and other types of engaging content to educate you on the go.
Once you’ve reached the Tomb, please have the flower of your choice with you, or a volunteer will provide you with one. In this once-in-a-lifetime event, you will be able to walk across the Plaza and lay your flower near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This moment is for you and all Unknowns "known but but to God" (as the inscription on the Tomb states). We hope that each and every person that chooses to participate in the flower ceremony has a respectful and meaningful experience—therefore, no selfies, please. If you would like to have your photo taken, please have another visitor capture your moment from the exit area.
While you are at the Tomb, you can view the changing of the guard from the east side of the Tomb at the top of every hour. Cemetery historians will also be giving interpretative talks throughout the day on the west steps. You can also experience the new centennial exhibits in the Memorial Amphitheater Display Room. Then, the tram can take you back the Welcome Center, or you may walk back when you’re ready. You can also choose to explore the cemetery and walk from this point on.
We look forward to seeing you over the next few days. Up-to-date information about the flower ceremony will be shared on our social media @ArlingtonNatl with #Tomb100.
► The Centennial Flower Ceremony: Meaning, Symbolism and History
► Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration (complete information)