Cemetery Sunday – A Visit to Arlington National Cemetery

My uncle Tom Witt was in Washington, D.C. for work and wanted to make a point to visit Arlington National Cemetery. As I had not been there in some time, I felt it would make a great time to catch up with him and visit America’s most hallowed ground.

Arlington National Cemetery sits on 624 acres and is the final resting place of 400,000 war casualties and veterans. Included in the latter group is my great uncle, Francis Witt Jr. Francis was an Air Force officer who served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam. I’ve previously written about his evasion and escape after being shot down in 1944 here.

My uncle, and later joined by my wife, son and mother-in-law, spent three hours walking around the cemetery, pausing at interesting or well-known individuals and honoring the unknown Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen with a stop at the Tomb of the Unknown.

Headstone of my great uncle Francis Witt’s grave.
The back of the headstone records the birth and death of his wife Mary Lou, buried with him.

My uncle Tom is here digging for a stone to leave on the top of Francis’s grave.

Francis had a brother Fred who served in the Marines during World War II, but this isn’t him. Ironically, this unrelated Fred is buried just a few rows away from Francis in the same section.

The date of death of Lt. McKamey was striking: June 6, 1944 is D-Day. A Google search revealed that his B-26 Marauder was shot down while on a bombing run to weaken the German forces in the area of Utah Beach. The entire crew was killed.

This entire section contains unknown soldiers from the Civil War.
General Ostermann was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in the 1915 invasion of Haiti. He retired from the Marine Corps as a Major General in 1943, in part because he was not given a combat command during World War II.

America’s most decorated soldier. Ever.
The American flag flies inside the Memorial Amphitheater, located behind the Tomb of the Unknown. I have been to Arlington National Cemetery numerous times but had never seen the wonderful exhibit inside the Amphitheater. 
The Tomb of the Unknown
The memorial of the seven astronauts lost when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart during reentry in 2003.
This panoramic shot captures the memorials to the Space Shuttle Challenger, the loss of American airmen in Operation Eagle Claw in 1980, and the Space Shuttle Columbia.
The grave of Commander Dick Scobee, who was lost in the Challenger disaster.
The mast of the U.S.S. Maine. The ‘Maine’ exploded in Havana harbor in 1898 and led in part to the Spanish-American War.
“Ask not what your country can do for you…” Part of the memorial wall around JFK’s grave.

The gang after a hot morning walking around Arlington.

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