Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington National Cemetery is comprised of land that once belonged to George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of Martha Washington and step-grandson of George Washington. Custis spent his life commemorating Washington and built Arlington House on the 1,100-acre plantation as a memorial to the first president. In 1857, Custis willed the property to his daughter Mary Anna Randolph Custis, who in 1831 had married U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Robert E. Lee.

After the Lee family vacated the property at the onset of the Civil War in 1861, federal troops used the land as a camp and headquarters. They sued in 1882 for the return of the property, winning the case in front of the Supreme Court of the United States. Lee then sold the property, which by this time contained the graves of over 6,000 Union soldiers, to the federal government for $150,000.

By the third year of the Civil War, 200 acres of Arlington plantation was set aside as a military cemetery. The first military burial took place on May 13, 1864, for Private William Christmas of Pennsylvania. On June 15, the War Department officially designated this burial space a national cemetery, thus creating Arlington National Cemetery.

The cemetery contains the remains of more than 400,000 people from the United States and 11 other countries. The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded 24/7 by the best, most qualified members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard. Nearly 5,000 unknown soldiers are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Funerals are normally conducted six days a week, Monday through Saturday, Arlington averages 35 to 40 funerals, including interments and inurnments, each week. The flags in Arlington National Cemetery are flown at half-staff from a half hour before the first funeral until a half hour after the last funeral each day.

  • Date privatized - September 15, 2015
  • Size - 624 Acres
  • Miles of line - 2.5 miles
  • Number of facilities served - 15 facilities including:  Memorial Amphitheater – Tomb of the Unknowns, Custis – Lee Mansion, Kennedy Gravesite, Welcome Center
  • Number of People Supported - Over 4 million people visit Arlington National Cemetery annually