As we reflect on the many funerals with military honors that have occurred here at Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery, we think about the many other locations in the United States and around the world that have also held such services. There is probably no site of this kind on U.S. soil that is more well known than Arlington National Cemetery, located just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.
The Arlington National Cemetery is situated on an estate that was once owned by General Robert E. Lee. Following the secession of Virginia from the Union, U.S. troops took over the estate and the government seized the property in 1864. Its first use as a cemetery with military honors came with the burial of Private William Christman, a 21-year old. The burial site with military honors was placed close enough to the mansion that no one would dare to live in it again. Today, there are servicemen from every war in the history of the U.S.
Another step to ensure the estate’s use for military honors came with the burial of 2,111 unknown soldiers inside a vault placed in the Lee’s rose garden. Eventually the Supreme Court ruled that the property had been seized from the Lee family without due process, but the family never returned to live in the estate. It was officially sold to the government by Lee’s son in 1883.
National Memorial Day Commemorations
In 1868 Decoration Day was proclaimed by General John A. Logan as a day to decorate the graves of those who died defending their country. On May 30 of that year, Decoration Day was held at Arlington National Cemetery. The holiday is now known as Memorial Day, when the graves of soldiers buried with military honors are strewn with flowers.
Cremation at Arlington
As we have noted at Mountain View Funeral Home, an increasing number of people, including military veterans, are choosing to be cremated. A large columbarium holding remains is located on Arlington National Cemetery. Although 5,000 niches are in use now, more niches are being constructed. When finished, there will be enough room for the remains of 100,000 honorably discharged veterans to be interred with military honors.
To date, there have been five state funerals at Arlington. The one that gets the most visits is that of President John F. Kennedy. His grave is identified by an eternal flame and is near that of his wife Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, their son, Patrick and Arabella, a stillborn daughter. State funerals were also held for President William Taft, Senator Robert Kennedy, Senator Edward Kennedy and General John Pershing.
If you are interested in learning more about funerals with military honors, please contact us at Mountain View Funeral Home and Cemetery. We respect our service men and women and would be honored to help in any way we can.