Sunday, November 24, 2013

Washington, D.C. - Day 7: The Pentagon, Arlington National Cemetery

It was hard to follow-up on the excitement of our sixth day in D.C., but we had a very enjoyable seventh day.

On Wednesday, November 6th, we had reservations to tour the Pentagon.  We arrived at the Pentagon in time to receive our tour given to us by an Air Force Airman 1st Class (A1C) in full service dress.  While at least half of the tour focused on the attack of September 11, 2001, we did learn a little bit about the Pentagon and its function.

The place is absolutely massive.  There are five concentric pentagons nested inside each other, and then there are five levels up and two levels down on each pentagon.  There are over 17 miles of corridors, and there's enough phone line in the building to circle the earth four-and-a-half times!  And there's 691 water fountains! Like I said, it's massive!

After our tour, we walked a few blocks away to a mall in Pentagon City where we found a food court for lunch.  It just so happened that a Metro station was right there in that mall, so we hopped on and rode a couple of stops away to Arlington Cemetery.

Arlington National Cemetery is our nation's most hallowed cemetery.  Our first destination when we arrived was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers to watch the changing of the guard.  Not only did we watch the changing of the guard, but we also got to watch a wreath-laying ceremony with a live bugler playing Taps.  It was very moving, and it brought a tear to the corner of my eye.

When the ceremonies were over, we walked to the "eternal flame" gravesite of President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline Kennedy. Following that, we walked to the gravesite of President/Chief Justice Howard Taft.  On our stroll through the cemetery, we saw many other notable gravesites: Thurgood Marshall (first black Justice of the Supreme Court), Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, and Five-Star General Omar Bradley.

Arlington Cemetery is indeed a solemn, peaceful, hallowed place.  It is Steve's wish to be interred in Arlington when he passes, so it was somewhat strange to realize that I was walking through the cemetery where my husband will likely lie some day, providing I survive him.  But honestly, there's nothing more fitting for this honorable man than the honor of being in Arlington National Cemetery.

There are many memorials and interesting areas in Arlington National Cemetery, but we didn't have a chance to see much of it besides what I listed.  Because the cemetery is so expansive, our feet couldn't handle all the walking.  After seeing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers and the two gravesites of the former presidents, we decided to call it a day.  We hopped back onto the subway and headed home a little early to give us some extra time to rest.