By | May 13, 2013

In a way it may seem ironic that the first soldiers buried at what would become Arlington National Cemetery would be a Confederate Prisoner of War. It was on May 13, 1864 that the first body was buried on the grounds of the confiscated home of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

Then again maybe it’s not, since the site is located in the State of Virginia, which was one of the Confederate States. The Mansion Arlington House was built by George Washington Parke Custis, adopted son of George Washington in 1802. His daughter Mary Anna married Lee in 1831. After the couple departed in 1861, the Mansion was transferred into a Military Headquarters.

By the end of June of 1864, 2,600 men were buried at Arlington. More than 300,000 people are buried in an area of 624 acres. It is the final resting placed of veterans and military casualties from every one of the nation’s wars from the American Revolution through the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.

One of the most popular tourist area of Arlington National Cemetery is the Tomb that contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict. The tomb is guarded by members of the 3rd United States Infantry around the clock throughout the year.

On May 20, 1986 the unidentified remains of the Shuttle Challenger, Commander, Francis R. “Dick” Scobee, its pilot, Michael J. Smith, Christa McAuliffe (the first ‘Teacher in Space’), Mission Specialists Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnick and Ronald E. McNair, along with Payload Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis were buried at the Space Shuttle Memorial. In addition the identified remains of Scobee and Smith are buried there as well.

Robert E. Lee and Anna Lee’s son, Custis Lee successfully filed a suit against the United States Government (the decision came from the Supreme Court) to regain title to the Mansion. Upon victory he sold it back to the government.



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