Arlington Cemetery – see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the Washington DC Bus Tour

This is a moving and inspiring place to visit on your Washington DC Bus Tour. And no wonder. Arlington Cemetery is the final resting place of veterans and military casualties from each of the nation’s wars. From the American Civil War right through to the present day, it represents a whole nation’s history and bravery.

One must-see landmark here is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It’s dedicated to American service members who died without their remains being identified. The tomb has been guarded continuously, 24 hours a day, since July 2 1937. If you’re lucky, you might see the Changing of the Guard ceremony while you’re here.

A historic setting

The cemetery was established during the Civil War, in the grounds of Arlington House. The house belonged to General Robert E. Lee’s wife. Since then space has been at a premium, and the cemetery expanded over the years into the Arlington woodland.

Presidential ground

5 state funerals have been held at Arlington, including the funeral of President John F. Kennedy, who is buried here. Kennedy served in the Naval Reserve during WW2, but any U.S. president can be buried at Arlington, whether they saw wartime service or not. As Commanders-in-Chief of the U.S. armed forces, they automatically qualify for burial here.

Other interesting facts about Arlington Cemetery

  • The cemetery stretches for 624 acres
  • The first soldier to be buried here was Private William Henry Christman, on 13 May 1864
  • The cemetery is divided into 70 sections
  • More than 3,800 former slaves are buried in Section 27