Politics and Government

The monumental private marker of Gilded Age financier and Congressman John W. Weeks

Ronald H. Brown (1941-1996) — The first African American secretary of commerce, Ron Brown had a distinguished career in law and public service. After graduating from Middlebury College and St. Johns University School of Law, Brown served in the U.S. Army for four years, with postings in South Korea and Europe, and attained the rank of captain. He then practiced law at the prestigious Washington firm of Patton, Boggs and Blow (becoming its first black partner), advised the presidential campaigns of Senator Edward Kennedy and Jesse Jackson, and served as chairman of the Democratic National Committee (1989-1992). In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed him as secretary of commerce. On April 3, 1996, Brown and 34 other people were killed aboard a U.S. Air Force CT-43 that crashed in Croatia. (Section 6, Grave 8389-B)

William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) — During the Spanish-American War (1898), William Jennings Bryan helped organize the Third Nebraska Volunteer Infantry Regiment, despite having no prior military experience. In civilian public service, he was a Congressman, representing Nebraska in the House of Representatives from 1891 to 1895; a three-time presidential candidate, running on the Democratic ticket in 1896, 1900 and 1908; and secretary of state under President Woodrow Wilson (1912-1915). The populist politician is perhaps best known for his 1896 "Cross of Gold" speech, in which he advocated the free coinage of silver as a solution to the economic crises of the 1890s. Bryan also earned fame for his role in the "Scopes Monkey Trial" of July 1925, in which he helped prosecute a Tennessee schoolteacher accused of teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution instead of the Biblical doctrine of divine creation. Bryan died in his sleep six days after the trial concluded. The inscription on his gravestone reads, "Statesman, yet friend to truth! Of soul sincere, in action faithful, and in honor clear."  (Section 4, Grave 3121)

William J. Donovan, U.S. Army (1883-1959) — From 1942 to 1945, U.S. Army officer William “Wild Bill” Donovan served as the founding director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), predecessor of the Central Intelligence Agency. Promoted to major general in 1944, Donovan was the first person in history to earn the United States' four highest awards: the Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal and the National Security Medal. He received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism in action at Landres-et-St. Georges, France during World War I. (Section 2, Grave 4874)

John Foster Dulles (1888-1959) — One of the most influential statesmen in American history, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles served during both terms of the Eisenhower administration, from January 1953 until shortly before his death from cancer in 1959. Born to a prominent Washington, D.C. family, Dulles graduated from Princeton University and the George Washington University Law School, with a focus on international law. During World War I, Dulles' poor eyesight prevented him from joining the Army, but he received a commission as a major on the War Industries Board, and President Woodrow Wilson appointed him as legal counsel to the U.S. delegation at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference. In various capacities, he continued advising U.S. foreign policy during the 1920s through 1940s, helping to craft the United States' role in the newly created United Nations as well as its response to the growing threat of the Soviet Union. As Eisenhower's Secretary of State, Dulles — a staunch anti-communist, due in part to his Presbyterian faith — played a key role in shaping the early Cold War. His foreign policy sought to contain communism while strengthening "free world" alliances. (Section 21, Grave 31)

Medgar Evers (1925-1963) — Born in Decatur, Mississippi, Medgar Evers was a World War II U.S. Army veteran and civil rights leader. During World War II, Evers enlisted in the U.S. Army and fought with a segregated unit at the Battle of Normandy and in Germany. Following his honorable discharge as a technical sergeant, he enrolled at Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College, a historically black college in Mississippi, and graduated in 1946. Evers' experiences of racial discrimination, both in and out of uniform, motivated him to become a civil rights activist. He organized local affiliates of the National Association for the Advancementof Colored People (NAACP), and in 1954 the NAACP appointed him as its first Mississippi field secretary. He recruited hundreds of members, organized voter registration drives and economic boycotts, and investigated racially based crimes — including the 1955 lynching and murder of Emmett Till. In response, white supremacists repeatedly threatened Evers' life. On June 12, 1963, Evers was assassinated in front of his home. Just hours before a Ku Klux Klan member shot Evers in the back, President John F. Kennedy had delivered a nationally televised speech in support of civil rights. The murder made national headlines, and thousands of mourners attended Evers' full military honors funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. The following year, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — one victory in the struggle for which Evers sacrificed his life. In 1994, 31 years after Evers' death, his killer was finally convicted. (Section 36, Grave 1431)

James V. Forrestal (1892-1949) — The United States' first secretary of defense, Forrestal served in that position from 1947 to 1949 — following the National Security Act of 1947, which unified the U.S. armed forces under the newly-created Department of Defense. In addition to guiding the military through this bureaucratic reorganization, Forrestal helped to formulate early Cold War defense policy. The former investment banker had proven himself to be a skilled military administrator during World War II: as undersecretary and then secretary of the Navy, he organized the Navy's massive wartime expansion and procurement programs. The inscription on his headstone reads: "In the great cause of good government." (Section 30, Grave 674)

William Franklin Knox, U.S. Army/Secretary of the Navy (1874-1944) — William Franklin "Frank" Knox was a journalist, publisher and politician who served in three wars. He fought with the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, served as an Army artillery officer in France during World War I and was secretary of the Navy during World War II. Knox began his career in journalism as a reporter for a small newspaper in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and worked his way up to becoming the publisher and part owner of the Chicago Daily News. In 1936, he ran for vice president on the Republican ticket, and in 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed him secretary of the Navy — a position he held until his death in 1944. Knox consistently advocated national preparedness and a two-ocean Navy, and under his leadership the Navy's size and strength expanded significantly. (Section 2, Grave 4961)   

William Leahy, U.S. Navy (1875-1959) — Leahy was one of two admirals promoted to fleet admiral (five-star) in December 1944. He served in the Spanish-American War and World War I, and as chief of naval operations from 1937 to 1939, he oversaw the Navy's return to preparedness during the lead-up to World War II. In a distinguished public service career, Adm. Leahy also served as governor of the Philippines, U.S. ambassador to France and chief of staff to Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman. (Section 2, Grave 932)

Gravesite of Robert Todd Lincoln, the only son of President Abraham Lincoln

Robert Todd Lincoln, U.S. Army (1843-1926) — The first son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Harlan Lincoln, and their only son to live to adulthood, Robert Todd Lincoln was a Harvard-educated lawyer, statesman and business executive. During the Civil War, he was commissioned as a U.S. Army captain and served as assistant adjutant to General Ulysses S. Grant. He then returned to civilian life, building a successful Chicago law practice. While he declined suggestions that he should run for the presidency, Lincoln did accept appointments as secretary of war (1881-1885) and as U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom (1889-1893). He became president of the Pullman Car Company in 1897, after many years as the railcar manufacturer's general counsel. Robert Todd Lincoln's memorial grave was designed by prominent American sculptor James Earle Fraser, who also designed the Taft Monument. (Section 31, Grave S-13)

George C. Marshall, U.S. Army (1880-1959) — One of the most distinguished military, diplomatic and political leaders of the 20th century, General George C. Marshall served as chief of staff of the U.S. Army during World War II (1939-1945). He directed the largest expansion of the Army in U.S. history, from fewer than 200,000 men before the war to more than eight million, with an unmatched arsenal of modern weapons and equipment. He also played a key role in shaping American military strategy, advocating an invasion of Nazi-occupied France via the English Channel. On December 16, 1944, Marshall was promoted to General of the Army (five stars), the nation's highest rank. After the war, President Harry Truman appointed him secretary of state (1947-1949) and secretary of defense (1950-1951); he is the only person to have held both positions. Marshall's diplomatic career was as historically significant as his military one. Most notably, he conceived an ambitious, highly successful program for the postwar economic recovery of Western Europe — known as the "Marshall Plan" — for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953. (Section 7, Grave 8198)

John Wingate Weeks (1860-1926) — After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1881, John Weeks served as a midshipman in the Navy for two years; he later served in the Massachusetts Naval Brigade (1890-1900) and as a volunteer in the U.S. Navy during the Spanish-American War (1898). Though Weeks initially worked in civil engineering, he made his fortune in banking, as co-founder of the Boston financial firm Hornblower and Weeks. A committed Republican, in 1904 he was elected to the House of Representatives, representing Massachusetts for four terms; he subsequently won election to the Senate, where he served one term (1913-1919). In 1921, President Warren Harding appointed Weeks secretary of war, a position that he continued under President Calvin Coolidge. Reflecting his wealth, Weeks has one of the most grandiose private markers at the cemetery (pictured, top of this page). (Section 5, Grave 7064)

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