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Arlington National Cemetery

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The Grounds

Memorials are scattered throughout the cemetery grounds. These symbols pay tribute to the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry, the Construction Battalion and even those who died on the space shuttle Columbia. There’s also the Confederate Memorial, despite popular belief that Arlington was a burial site for Union Soldiers only.

The cemetery’s beauty is nurtured by more than 100 federal employees, plus contractors from 14 companies.

“We have very dedicated employees who love their jobs. The cemetery is internationally known, so everyone takes great pride in working here,” Sherlock said.

The grounds-maintenance team prunes more than 8,000 trees, cuts grass, sets and cleans headstones, removes snow and even pitches in on janitorial duties. Workers are often toiling away at dawn to keep out of the way of funerals and tourists.

Hallowed Ground

Visitors to the cemetery are expected to behave respectfully. “Please remember these are hallowed grounds,” reads a sign outside the visitor’s center.

From Sherlock’s view, every American should reflect on the costs of war, and the sacrifices made to protect peace.

Of all the people Sherlock has met in almost 30 years as the cemetery’s historian, it’s not the visits of American presidents, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, or Mikhail Gorbachev that have impressed him the most.

“What I remember most are the families, especially the children, and the heartbreaking impact that death has on them,” Sherlock said. “It gets into your heart and soul.”

Arlington National Cemetery opens at 8 a.m. daily. It closes at 7 p.m. April through September, and at 5 p.m. October through March. The customer-service desk at the visitor’s center has a directory of gravesites and columbarium niches. For directions, visit www.arlingtoncemetery.org.

Above information courtesy of U.S. Army

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