Washington, D.C. Trip

Arlington National Cemetery

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Washington, D.C. Trip

Meghan Rydell, Staff Writer

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As an eighth grade student at George Washington Middle School, you have the opportunity to go on an amazing class trip to Washington, D.C. in the spring.  The trip is full of amazing sights, laughs, and memories that to last a lifetime! However, while there are many places where you can talk, laugh, and do what you please, Arlington National Cemetery is not one of those places. There, they focus on honoring and respecting our fallen heroes. It’s not just a cemetery, it’s a place where people go to mourn their loved ones. Daily, there are about 30 funerals and thousands of visitors. You will have the opportunity to walk throughout Arlington with your tour guide and learn about the graves and people who are buried there. This part of the trip is very informative and really awesome.

 

Rules

  • Silence- There is absolutely no talking during the changing of the guards. If you are too loud, the guards will stop what they are doing and yell at you. It is a very scary feeling so please be respectful. You can however, whisper as you walk through the rest of the tour at Arlington.
  • Respect- As you walk, you may see funeral processions with horse drawn carriages. DO NOT take pictures. At Arlington they focus on respect and honor. Taking pictures of a funeral is disrespectful and unhonorable.
  • Touch- Throughout the tour you will see several famous graves. Coins, flowers, flags, and notes might be in that area. Please do not touch the items left by their loved ones. Also, do not touch the stones themselves.
  • Pictures- You are allowed to take photos and videos of the changing of the guards, grave stones, the eternal flame, and etc. The only thing that you are not allowed to take photos or videos of is a funeral procession.
  • Listen- You tour guide will tell you a lot of information as you walk through. Pay attention and stick with your group. It is a very large place and it’s easy to get lost. You will be given instructions for a specific reason, follow them. They are important if you want to enjoy your time there.

 

Information

  • There are about thirty funerals a day.
  • Everything they do there is precise and with a purpose.
  • It is a place of honor and respect.
  • The highest person in terms of importance is the soldiers in the tomb of the unknown.
  • Coins on a grave is a Jewish tradition of respect and love.
  • It is close to an airport, but no commercial planes fly directly over Arlington. Some military planes fly over as a salute or during a memorial.
  • If the flag is at half-mast, there is a funeral going on.
  • Only high ranking officials like captains and officers get a horse drawn carriage in their funeral.
  • In order to be buried there you need to meet specific criteria including either:
    • Dying in combat
    • Becoming disabled in combat
    • Serving 20 years
    • Being a president or elected official (have the option)
  • They are running out of space at Arlington, and soon there will be no room to expand.
  • Groups from all over the world come here. A special group called the honor flight takes veterans who served in wars to the tomb of the unknown soldier to see their colleagues and honor them with this once in a lifetime opportunity.

 

Arlington is an inspirational place where you will get to honor our soldiers. Remember that freedom is not free. Everyone buried there has helped fight for our country, and they deserve your respect. Remember to be respectful and on your best behavior.