Air Force Memorial Will Be Closed to Spectators on Independence Day

Public access to the Southern Expansion portion of ANC, which includes access to the Air Force Memorial, will be closed on July 4.

Published on: Thursday, June 30, 2022

Last Tuskegee Airmen Pilot Laid to Rest

By AMBER R VINCENT on 6/22/2022

By: Kevin Hymel, ANC Contract Historian

For a somber event, the funeral for Colonel Charles McGee, the last Tuskegee Airmen pilot, was surprisingly joyous. The Air Force band set the mood by playing “Ode to Joy” as they followed the caisson to the burial location in Section 3 of Arlington National Cemetery. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Richard S. Beyea III kept up the theme by declaring to the gathered mourners, “We are celebrating an incredible life.” McGee had lived 102 years before passing away on January 16, 2022. He had been promoted to brigadier general after his retirement.

From Tomb100 to Flowers of Remembrance

By AMBER R VINCENT on 5/31/2022

By: Kevin Hymel, ANC Contract Historian

Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb sentinels, members of 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, will play a key role in the upcoming Flowers of Remembrance Day on May 28, when the public can lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And the sentinels are ready. They already helped the public lay flowers for two days in early November 2021 for the Tomb Centennial.

Flags In 2022

By AMBER R VINCENT on 5/28/2022

By: Kevin Hymel, ANC Contract Historian

In the pre-dawn darkness of Thursday, May 26, uniformed members of the military spread out among the headstones of Arlington National Cemetery, their rucksacks filled with American flags. Quietly, they placed a boot against a headstone and pushed a flag into the ground at their heel. Then they moved onto the next headstone and repeated the process until a flag stood at the base of every headstone. The event, known as Flags-In had been a Memorial Day tradition since 1948.

Flowers of Remembrance Day: Inaugurating a New Tradition at Arlington National Cemetery

By AMBER R VINCENT on 5/20/2022

On Saturday May 28, 2022, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) will be inaugurating a new tradition: Flowers of Remembrance Day. During this ceremony, the public will be afforded the rare opportunity to walk on the plaza in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and place a flower there to memorialize our nation’s military dead. In conceptualizing the idea for this ceremony, ANC drew from several historical precedents and the events of the recent Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration to create a new, modern tradition for Memorial Day weekend. Since the cemetery’s early years, honoring the war dead with flowers has been a consistent ritual at ANC. This new iteration through Flowers of Remembrance Day forms yet another step in the evolution of this tradition. To help the public understand this ceremony’s intent and symbolism, this blog article explains the rich historical context surrounding this new event and situates it within the 158-year legacy of mili ...

Ida Lewis, "The Bravest Woman in America"

By JENIFER LEIGH VAN VLECK on 3/31/2022

Ida Lewis, the namesake of Arlington National Cemetery’s Lewis Drive, was once known as “the bravest woman in America.” Lewis served as an official lighthouse keeper for the U.S. Lighthouse Service (later absorbed into the Coast Guard) from 1879 until her death, at age 69, in 1911. 

Medal of Honor Recipients Lay Wreath at Tomb of Unknown Soldier

By JENIFER LEIGH VAN VLECK on 3/29/2022

On National Medal of Honor Day, March 25, 2022, two Vietnam veterans, with Medals of Honor draped around their necks, laid a wreath from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The two men together symbolized the opening and closing of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Barney Barnum, a retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, earned his medal on December 18, 1965, as American grounds troops began arriving in South Vietnam. Brian Thacker, who served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, earned his on March 31, 1971, as U.S. troops gradually withdrew from the country.

USS Oklahoma Sailor Buried at Arlington National Cemetery

By JENIFER LEIGH VAN VLECK on 3/25/2022

Seaman 1st Class Walt Stein’s life was cut short on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The 20-year-old sailor from Cheyenne, Wyoming, was serving onboard the battleship USS Oklahoma when Japanese torpedo bombers struck the ship multiple times. The Oklahoma quickly capsized, killing 429 crewmen, including Stein. But his body remained unidentified, leaving his family to wonder about his fate for decades.

Honoring the Life and Legacy of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By JENIFER LEIGH VAN VLECK on 3/14/2022

It is fitting that one of the most important women in American history had a birthday in March, Women’s History Month. Ruth Bader Ginsburg — Supreme Court justice, cultural icon, and indefatigable champion of gender equality — was born on March 15, 1933. She is buried in Section 5 of Arlington National Cemetery, next to her husband, Martin Ginsburg, an attorney and U.S. Army veteran.   

Army Band Members Honor Musician Lt. James Reese Europe

By JENIFER LEIGH VAN VLECK on 3/1/2022

On February 22, 2022, a small group of soldiers — some in black coats with gold lanyards and red service caps, others in World War I period “doughboy” uniforms — gathered at the grave of Lieutenant James Reese Europe. They were there for a ceremony to honor the anniversary of his birthday, in 1881. Europe, a renowned musical innovator, served as a Black officer in the segregated U.S. Army during World War I. He led the band for the 369th Infantry Regiment, the famed “Harlem Hellfighters.”

Braving the Cold, Collecting Wreaths

By JENIFER LEIGH VAN VLECK on 1/25/2022

Despite the 12-degree temperatures on the morning of January 22, 2022, people roamed through Arlington National Cemetery removing wreaths from headstones. To these volunteers, braving the cold weather to collect wreaths was only a small sacrifice. To them, it was way to honor those who sacrificed all.