For those who have visited the Arlington National Cemetery, or simply know a lot about its origins, Arlington House is a recognizable feature of the historic site. However, before it became a dedicated national cemetery, it served multiple purposes once it was no longer a plantation both during and after the Civil War.
Lloyd Cosby remembers standing on the plaza at Arlington Cemetery, inspecting a guard change at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, when an elderly woman approached him. “Are the guards here at night?” she asked.
It was the late 1950s, during the year and seven months that Cosby served as the Tomb guards’ platoon leader. Later that day, the woman would tell Cosby about her son who had died at war, but had never been identified. The Tomb of the Unknowns was the only place she could come to pay her respects.
“Yes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” Cosby told her. “Every second of every minute of every day.”
WETA's local documentary, Arlington National Cemeterygives a poignant look at one of our nation's most hallowed grounds and offers a inside view of the cemetery's operations and history. But, since it's impossible to include everything in a one-hour documentary, we've been looking for other interesting Arlington stories to explore here on the blog.
So, along those lines, allow us to introduce you to one of Poland's greatest heroes, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who took a hiatus from his career as a world-renowned pianist and composer to serve as that nation's first Prime Minister. What does this have to do with Arlington? Find out after the jump.
WETA Television's documentary, Arlington National Cemetery has inspired us to do some digging on cemetery history. Here's the background behind one of Arlington's most meaningful memorials.
On a warm, sunny day in June of 1914, a crowd gathered to witness the unveiling of what The Washington Post described as “a memorial of heroic size, commemorating war, but dedicated to peace.” It was an intricately designed, 32-foot tall granite monument deeply embedded with symbolic meaning for visitors to decode. A large statue of a woman facing southward dominated the top of the monument. In her extended arm was a laurel wreath meant to represent the sacrifices of fallen soldiers. Below her, a Biblical passage was inscribed, near four urns that symbolize the four years of the Civil War, and fourteen shields. Closer to the monument’s base are thirty-two life-sized figures, including Southerners of varying military branch, race, gender, occupation, and age, along with mythological characters such as Minerva, Goddess of War.
So what was this new monument and why were so many people clamoring to see it?