arlington national cemetery, roses arlington cemetery
Roses lie in memory of fallen service men and women at Arlington.

Memorial Day recalls those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces and is observed on the last Monday each May. What better way to show appreciation to fallen service members than to pay a visit to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day? More than 300,000 veterans of every American conflict, from the Revolutionary War to Iraq and Afghanistan, are interred at Arlington.

Arlington National Cemetery originated on the grounds of Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House plantation during the Civil War. Memorial Day was originally observed as Decoration Day in 1868 as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By 1870, nearly 300,000 Union dead had been reinterred in over 70 national cemeteries located near major battlefields – mainly in the South. One of the most famous of these is Arlington Cemetery.

In the early years of the Civil War, most nearby cemeteries became full of war dead. Following the Battle of the Wilderness in May 1864 in central Virginia, Union soldiers began to be buried at Arlington.

These images by photographer Hector Miguel Lopez evoke the spirit at Arlington found each Memorial Day. In Hector’s own words, “Photography makes me look more closely at the beautiful and diverse world around me and I love to share what I see through my camera’s viewfinder.”

While the photos of the bald eagle (in Oregon) and the US Air Force Thunderbirds (in Tucson, Arizona) did not take place at Arlington Cemetery, we think it evokes the spirit of each Memorial Day – a spirit that is perhaps no more profound than when walking through the rows of graves at beautiful, quiet, Arlington.

arlington memorial bridge, arlington house
Arlington Memorial Bridge crosses the Potomac from Washington, DC to Arlington National Cemetery. Arlington House, in the distance, was built by George Washington’s adopted son George Washington Parke Custis.

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