The Importance of Arlington National Cemetery

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Toward the end of the Civil War, the Union decided to appropriate some land across the river from Washington, D.C., to use as a burial ground. The land belonged to the family of the wife of Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee. It was an unmistakable message to the South.

That land would become the Arlington National Cemetery. It is 150 years old this month.

Every day, members of the Army’s Old Guard, the oldest regiment in our history, are among those who perform dozens of funerals at Arlington. It is a solemn and serious business. Steeped in ritual, and flawlessly performed, it is a sight to behold. You cannot help but be moved.

Every gravestone at Arlington is symbol of service and honor. And the members of the Old Guard make sure they know the stories of those they bury. The living and the dead are thusly bound. Comrades-in-arms without whom we would not be free.

Below, hear from Staff Sgt. Jonathan Goodrich, a veteran of two tours in Iraq, who describes the significance of paying tribute to fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.

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