Arlington National Cemetery is a United States military cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The cemetery is 624 acres and is where the dead of the nation’s conflicts have been buried, beginning with the Civil War, as well as re-interred dead from earlier wars.
The Arlington National Cemetery is the resting place of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis as well as other members of the Kennedy family.
Arlington National Cemetery
- The address for Arlington National Cemetery is:
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington, VA 22211
- Hours of operation: 365 days a year. 8am-7pm (April-September)
- Phone: 877-907-8585
- Cost: Free
- Paid parking: $2 per hour, $8 per hour commercial rate
If you are visiting the Washington DC area then you’ll definitely want to make a stop at the Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington Virginia.
It’s only a few minutes drive from Washington DC and easily accessible by car or transit.
I recently visiting Washington DC and Virginia for a blogging conference and had just enough down time that I was able to do some sightseeing including visiting the Arlington National Cemetery and the Pentagon 9/11 Memorial.
The 9/11 memorial is only a few minutes away from the cemetery and is the perfect excursion to fit in before or after a visit to the cemetery.
As you enter the cemetery you will have to go through security. They will have you go through a metal detector and check your bags.
The grounds of the cemetery are very lovely and well maintained. There are a few drinking fountains on the premises and public bathrooms.
Although entry to the cemetery is free and if you want to go on a guided tour there is a nominal fee. You can purchase tour tickets in the welcome center after you pass through security. If you have time I would recommend taking a paid tour. You get to ride on the trolley rather than walk for miles on foot and they will bring you right to all the notable graves. You can find a map of the cemetery to do you own walking tour here.
Who can be buried at the cemetary?
Soldiers who die while on active duty, retired members of the Armed Forces, and certain Veterans and Family members are eligible for burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
John F Kennedy Gravesite
President John F Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Only one other president is buried there, William Howard Taft, who died in 1930.
The tomb and memorial to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is located in lot 45, Section 30 of Arlington National Cemetery. It is a 10 minute walk from the Visitor Center. It’s well marked and easy to find.
Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis was laid to rest next to President Kennedy on May 23, 1994. JFK and Jackie’s graves are side by side and an eternal flame burns from the center of a five-foot circular granite stone at the head of the grave.
Other Kennedy family members are buried nearby. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated on June 6, 1968, was interred at Arlington in 1971. Senator Edward M. Kennedy was buried in an adjacent plot after his death in August 2009.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery’s most iconic memorial, stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. The tomb sybolizes the sacrifices of all American service members
The neoclassical, white marble sarcophagus depicts three carved Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. Six wreaths, three sculpted on each side, represent the six major campaigns of World War I.
The Tomb sarcophagus stands above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War I. To the west are the crypts for Unknowns from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, each marked with a white marble slab flush with the plaza.
The Changing of the Guard
The military guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is changed in an elaborate ceremony which happens every hour on the hour from October 1 through March 31, and every half hour from April 1 through September 30.
Twenty-four hours a day, soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” stand watch over the Tomb. The Tomb Guards, also called Sentinels, are chosen for this prestigious and highly selective post only after rigorous training and a demanding series of examinations (see below). The Old Guard has held this distinguished duty since 1948.
An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the changing of the guard. Soon, the new Sentinel leaves the Tomb Guard quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle, signaling to the relief commander to begin the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and remain silent during the ceremony.
Arlington National Cemetery Dress Code
If you’re attending a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, business casual dress is the minimum standard for both men and women. This is true for any ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery, such as a wreath ceremony.
We suggest wearing attire that is appropriate for the season, but also respects the dignity of the occasion. Proper footwear that allows mobility on hard and soft surfaces is recommended.
Dress Code for Public Wreath Ceremonies
The appearance and dress of people participating in ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier should adhere to the standards expected of such dignified occasions. The minimum standard is business casual, defined as:
- For men: A collared shirt (such as a dress shirt or polo shirt) dress slacks or chinos, a button-down shirt, dark socks, and dress shoes. business jacket and tie can be added.
- For women: Appropriate business casual outfits for women include a skirt or dress slacks, blouse, sweater, twinset, jacket (optional), and hosiery (optional) with closed-toe shoes. An informal dress with appropriate skirt length is also acceptable.
- School uniforms are allowed as long as an adult official from the school confirms that the student’s attire is in accordance with the school uniform policy.
The following attire is considered not appropriate for participation in the ceremonies:
- Blue jeans or denim pants
- Ripped clothing
- Athletic wear
- Patched pants
- Shorts of any kind (except when part of an established uniform: e.g. school uniforms, scout uniforms, foreign or period military uniforms)
- Tee shirts
- Tank tops
- Halter tops
- Underwear as outerwear
- Shirts that expose the midriff
- Open-toed shoes (for women, nice sandals — not flip-flops — are appropriate during warmer months)
Should I wear my uniform to a military service?
Both active and former members of the military should be dressed in their Class-A uniform which is commonly referred to as a Dress Uniform. A military funeral is not the time to wear your military mess dress. Civilians are expected to dress in formal attire much like you would if you were attending a church service.
Other notable graves as the Arlington National Cemetery:
- Lee Marvin (1924-87)
- William Howard Taft (1857-1930)
- Anita Newcomb McGee (1864-1940)
- Grace Hopper (1906-92)
- Mary Lee Fitzhugh Custis (1788-1853)
- Mary Randolph (1762-1828)
- Joe Louis Barrow (1914-81)
- Thurgood Marshall (1908-93)
How do you find the grave of someone who is buried at the cemetary?
Arlington National Cemetery’s app, ANC Explorer, enables families, visitors and the public to locate gravesites, events or other points of interest throughout the cemetery; view front-and-back headstone photos and points of interest; and receive directions to these locations. The latest version also includes self-guided tours, easy access to general information, and provides the ability to save searched burial records to a mobile device.
Download the free app to your mobile device using the App Store or Google Play. Launch ANC Explorer here if using a traditional desktop browser. The app is also available for public use on kiosks at the cemetery.
Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater was dedicated on May 15, 1920. While Memorial Day ceremonies are held throughout the United States, many consider the services at Memorial Amphitheater to be the nation’s official ceremony honoring American service members. The president of the United States traditionally gives an address during Memorial Day ceremonies at the amphitheater.
5,000 visitors attend each of the three major annual memorial services in the Amphitheater, which take place on Easter, Memorial Day and Veterans Day and are sponsored by the U.S. Army Military District of Washington. The Easter sunrise service begins at 6 a.m.; Memorial Day and Veterans Day services begin at 11 a.m. Many military organizations also conduct annual memorial services at the amphitheater.
FAQ for Arlington National Cemetery
If you’re attending a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery – or any other ceremony there such as a wreath ceremony – business casual dress is required for both men and women. If you are just a tourist jeans and shorts and a t shirt are fine. Just be respectful and mindful that you are at a cemetery.
Yes. The site is open to the public 365 days a year with free admission for those who wish to tour the site and pay their respects.
Ample paid parking is available to visitors and is accessible from Memorial Avenue. The parking garage closes 1 hour after the cemetery.
For a self guided walking tour you will need about 3 hours.
Photography is permitted within the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery. Public use of a tripod or lights is not permitted without permission from the Office of Public Affairs
Fresh cut flowers may be placed on grave sites at any time. Arlington National Cemetery provides portable cones for flowers that the public may use.
Typically 20-30 minutes
Have you visited the Arlington National Cemetery? Let me know about your experience in the comments.