During Memorial Day Weekend many people remember those who have served our country, living and dead. This cemetery plays an important role in honoring those in our armed forces. This place plays a huge part in the history of Memorial Day.

Check out these cool facts about this cemetery to help you celebrate Memorial Day 2012!

Arlington National Cemetery could have been called Washington National Cemetery.

The property was actually never intended to be a cemetery. The mansion was to be a living memorial to George Washington and was built by his adopted grandson “George Washington” Parke Custis. Parke Custis had always intended to name the mount “Mount Washington.” However, “Arlington” became the name, probably because the Custis family had an estate in the Virginia area after that name.

Arlington House

Arlington House
Credit: http://www.dreamstime.com/arlington-house-rimagefree942428-resi3944856

General Robert E. Lee of the Confederate Army lived in Arlington House.

That’s right, a general of the Confederate army owned the Arlington house. Technically, his wife, Mary Ann Custis the daughter of Parke Custis was the owner, but Robert E. Lee was the caretaker for a time. Unfortunately, because of circumstance surrounding the war and taxes not being paid, they lost the house to the federal government who sold it to a tax commissioner. Later, it was given back to the family in a Supreme Court decision.

Arlington Estate became a sign of freedom.

For a short time, this estate was home to free slaves. It gave them an opportunity to make a living. They were given land to farm and a place to live. This was called Freedman’s Village. It functioned for about 20 years. Also, Parks a slave of George Washing Parke Custis, who was later freed, is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Policy during his death didn’t allow black people to be buried in the cemetery, but the secretary of war made an exception. He spent time in Freedman’s Village along with hundreds of others. Many of his comrades are buried with headstones marked “civilian.”  James Parks lived during the Spanish American War and World War I. Arlington Estate has been and is a sign of freedom for all races and people.

Arlington Cemetery

Arlington Cememtery
Credit: http://www.dreamstime.com/arlington-house-rimagefree942428-resi3944856

John F. Kennedy, the 35th president is buried here.

He was born May 29, 1917. He died November 22, 1963. A bullet took the president from an assassin. His grave is among the most visited in Arlington National Cemetery. His grave could have been buried near his home, but his wife said that the President, “belonged to the people.”

Changing of the Guard.

In honor and respect to the fallen, the guard is changed every hour for about half the year, Oct. 1st – March 31st. From April 1st – September 30th, it is done every half hour. During this ceremony they honor the “Unknown” solders, represented by the tomb of the unknown solider. The guard is takes their task very seriously and the soldiers walk at a rate of 90 steps a minute.  The guard detail is extremely rigorous. The soldiers assigned for this task take pride in their job!

If you have any interesting facts about the Arlington National Cemetery, sound off in the comments! Find some Memorial Day parades, be proud of our soldiers and honor the fallen!

Watch the Changing of the Guard!