New Year’s Day at Arlington National Cemetery

The view from the John Kennedy gravesite, straight down the Memorial Bridge to the Lincoln Memorial. It was across this bridge that a horse-drawn caisson famously brought the fallen president to this final resting place.

This is the first in a series of 10 DC Walks Click the link to see the rest!

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This post is one in a series of Ten 3-Mile Walks Around Washington, DC. The pins in the map below show where I stopped to take pictures but also serve to outline the route!


Happy New Year!  I love the new year holiday for its lack of pressure.  I also love the blank canvas of a new year ahead of me.  I usually take this time to work on goals and one of this year’s goals is to blog more.

Arlington House, once the home or General Robert E Lee sits at the top of the hill overlooking the cemetery and the city of Washington, DC across the Potomac River.

I thought about what caused the long gaps between postings and came up with two reasons.  One is that I try to make every post a polished well-written piece and thus turned a creative enjoyment into work.  I routinely have amazing adventures and this year I’m striving for 50 postings so they won’t all be polished.  There goes my chance to get picked up by the New Yorker!

Each year an organization called Wreaths Across America lays a Christmas wreath at every gravestone.

The second reason I have gaps is that I have taken to posting only about fun travel.  I live in an amazing city and often take advantage of what it has to offer.  So expect a lot more Washington, DC and northern Virginia this year!  I post a lot more often on Instagram so I suggest following there too!

Entering the cemetery on foot near the Marine Corps (Iwo Jima) Memorial this is the first view you see!

New Year’s Day was a mild winter day and my wife and I decided to take a long walk in nearby Arlington National Cemetery.  At Christmas time an organization called Wreaths Across America lays a small Christmas wreath at every gravestone in the cemetery.  It’s beautiful–and on New Year’s Day not very crowded.

I’ve been getting some really good photos lately with the soft low light of the winter sunset so we went out at 4:30.  We did indeed get some great light and great photos.

Late in the day the military precision of gravestones is dappled with the soft light of the winter sunset.

We arrived at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier just before 5.  The sun had set behind us, the moon was rising in front of us, and the very solemn ceremony of the Changing of the Guard was about to take place.  The Honor Guard watches over the tomb at all times, any weather, everyday, every hour.  The Changing of the Guard is a beautiful show of respect for unidentified fallen veterans and it makes one feel very patriotic.


When the ceremony concluded, it was dark.  The city and a nearly full moon offered plenty of light, but we were a mile and a half from where we had entered and took our time walking back.  It was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had at a DC monument.  Nobody seemed to care that we were still there, and we saw very few other people.

Changing of the Guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

While walking through a cemetery in the dark seems like a spooky experience, for some reason I didn’t experience that.  I just don’t think troublesome ghosts are going to mess with the US military!  Very quickly our eyes adjusted to the darkness and we walked back to our car which was parked at the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial.  It was very cool to have the park to ourselves in the dark.

A moonlit walk through the cemetery was a rare treat and had a special feeling.

The GPS on my phone tells me the walk was a total of nearly 4 miles and I would estimate we covered less than 50% of the cemetery.  I highly recommend a visit for the gorgeous views and the healthy dose of patriotism!

The Eternal Flame of the JFK gravesite in the lower foreground. As the sun sets on Washington DC across the Potomac River the National Mall stretches from the Lincoln Memorial on the left to the Washington Monument (center) to the US Capitol on the right.


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