On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery

On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery

by Robert M. Poole

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Overview

On Hallowed Ground opens with the long-delayed funeral of four servicemen, brought home for final honors at Arlington National Cemetery almost forty years after they disappeared in Vietnam. To understand how this tradition of extraordinary care for our war dead began, Robert Poole traces the founding of Arlington Cemetery on what had been the family plantation of Robert E. Lee. After resigning his commission in the U.S. Army, Lee left Arlington to command the Army of Northern Virginia. Arlington, strategic to the defense of Washington, D.C., became a U.S. Army headquarters and a cemetery for indigent Civil War soldiers before Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton made it the new national cemetery.
Initially, there was no honor attached to being buried at Arlington; this began to change after the war, as the Union gathered thousands of hastily-buried casualties from nearby battlefields and reinterred them at Arlington, where they received the honors of a grateful nation. But the rites, rituals, and reverence associated with Arlington evolved over the next hundred years, paid through the blood of those who fought in the Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Cold War, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraq and Afghanistan.
Robert Poole paints an intimate, behind-the-scenes picture of the history and day-to-day operations of Arlington National Cemetery.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802719782
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 11/11/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 46,981
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Robert M. Poole is former executive editor of National Geographic and author of Explorers House, which was a holiday pick for Barnes&Noble's "Discover Great New Writers" series in 2004. He is a contributing editor at Smithsonian and a contract writer for National Geographic. Poole has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Preservation.
Robert M. Poole is former executive editor of National Geographic and author of Explorers House, which was a holiday pick for Barnes&Noble's "Discover Great New Writers" series in 2004. He is a contributing editor at Smithsonian and a contract writer for National Geographic. Poole has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Preservation.

Robert M. Poole is a writer and editor whose work for National Geographic, Smithsonian, and other magazines has taken him around the world. His last book, On Hallowed Ground, earned wide critical acclaim and was one of the Washington Post's Best Books of 2009. Poole, former executive editor of National Geographic, lives in Vermont.

Table of Contents

Prologue 1

Part I Disunion

1 Leaving Arlington 9

2 Occupation 22

3 "Vast Army of the Wounded" 37

4 First Burials 58

5 A Question of Ownership 76

Part II Reunion

6 "A Splendid Little War" 105

7 L'Enfant's Grand View 119

8 Known but to God 133

9 A Time to Build Up 160

10 "We Are All in It-All the Way" 176

11 The Nastiest Little War 194

Part III The Nation's Cemetery

12 "I Could Stay Here Forever" 209

13 The Last Unknown 230

14 War Comes to Arlington 251

15 Taps 263

Epilogue 269

Benediction 271

Acknowledgments 273

Appendix I Arlington Chronology 277

Appendix II Regulations for Burial 287

Notes and Sources 289

Index 343

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On Hallowed Ground 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 49 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having been upon the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery several times I am always at awe walking through the gates, but although I have some background knowledge of the area, Mr. Poole shed more light upon many aspects of these hallowed grounds that have just furthered my interest in this national landmark. Two thumbs up. Not a bad chapter in the book.
Tim_C More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book. I bought it this summer after my first visit to Arlington Cemetery. It really captures the majesty and tragedy of the cemetery. The book is a really enjoyable read. It contains a lot of details while at the same time, it doesn't get bogged down with them. It started with the history of the plantation and how it was chosen as the site of the Cemetery. 1 of the greatest ironies in US History and it detailed it great. Would really recommend this book for any history buffs. I would try to time it with a visit to Arlington Cemetery, which is a must-see for any DC visitor.
mryoda More than 1 year ago
Robert M. Poole has written a wonderful book. Reading this book is like taking a walk through Arlington itself. I highly recommend it. The only thing I did not like was the typeface of the book. As Americans, we should know some things about our national cemeteries - both good and bad. These 'gardens of stone' have so many stories to tell and Poole really captures that. Thank You, Mr. Poole.
cmp53 More than 1 year ago
Bought this book as I have been to Arlington Cemetary a number of times but never really knew the history of it. Read it in two days and have passed it on to my kids who are extremely interested in the history as well. Arlington National Cemetary is a big part of US History and everyone will be better off understanding how this Cemetary developed and how it got to where it is today. A great read!
creighley on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well-paced history of the history of Arlington National Cemetery. It reads like an abridged American history book.
EMYeak on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On Hallowed Ground was an interesting read. It is the story of Arlington National Cemetery beginning with the time when it was the family home of Robert E. Lee and his wife. His wife inherited a life interest in the estate and they had been married there. The book relates the difficult decision of Lee to resign from the U. S. Army and leave his home to lead the fight of the Confederacy. The estate was taken over by the Union as part of the ¿spoils of war.¿ Although the Supreme Court ruled in 1882 that the estate had been obtained by unconstitutional means, the eldest son of the Lees agreed to sell the property to the federal government. By that time, the estate had been transformed completely from its days as the Lee family knew it.The book continues telling the history of the cemetery by relating all of the wars involving the United States and their effect on burials, ceremonies and regulations. Some of the more interesting parts of the book cover the history involving the tombs of the unknown soldiers. Servicemen from World Wars I and II and the Korean War are buried there. A serviceman from Vietnam had been selected and buried there but was later exhumed and identified after questions were raised that he could be named. It is unlikely that there will be any future unknowns to be buried there.Author Poole also relates the long weekend of preparing for the burial of President Kennedy. He covers site selection, the preparations by the Old Guard, the installation necessary to light the ¿eternal flame,¿ and all of the other minute details to make the funeral procession and burial happen without the slightest hitch. Everyone involved knew the world would be watching.I enjoyed this book, but I was still slightly disappointed in it. Perhaps I was left wanting more. I think that was it. At first, I felt there was too much information relating to some of the wars. But I realize that most of it was included to show how fighting in those wars and their aftermath affected the cemetery and its utilization. Kennedy¿s burial there also had a great long-term impact. The number of annual visits to the cemetery increased greatly and requests for burial there also increased after Kennedy¿s interment. In fact, requests for burial increased so much that it became necessary to tighten the rules for eligibility for burial there. As far as left wanting more, I would have liked to read even more about the different sections and notables buried there.
cyclokitty on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery by Robert M. Poole is an informative and interesting if somewhat disjointed book. The first chapters are perhaps the strongest, devoted as they are to the chronological and somewhat ironic history of Arlington. The story of the Custis and Lee families, the slaves, and the problematic bequests that Robert E. Lee inherited, while not gripping, are probably less well-known than they might be. The most interesting part of Arlington¿s story from a real estate standpoint is the history of ownership by Robert E. Lee¿s family until they were forced to flee in the early days of the Civil War. Chapters exploring the history of the estate during the war and the initial use as a burial ground for hospital casualties feel repetitive, and the author misses a chance to connect his story of Arlington National Cemetery to the larger cultural story of death and mourning in the Civil War era. Astute readers will be able to make connections themselves between this work and Drew Gilpin Faust¿s recent This Republic of Suffering; Poole strains for but ultimately fails to make this conceptual link, and this seems to me to be the greatest weakness of the book: the social and cultural context of the cemetery. Poole covers the political aspects of World War I and the first Unknown Soldiers, and the story is little-known, but he misses, again, a larger to connection to earlier works like Modris Ekstein¿s Rite of Spring and Paul Fussell¿s classic, The Great War and Modern Memory. The Civil War and the First World War both produced record numbers of corpses and casualties and brutally wounded and mutilated survivors. Arlington¿s role in salving the collective wounds of the nation seems missed here, or under-emphasized while the story of real estate, expansion, and political concerns prevails. It¿s a matter of emphasis, and in a book that reads like a collection of expanded magazine pieces, room for more cultural analysis would have been welcome. In the end, Poole¿s telling of the Unknown Soldier of Viet Nam, Michael Blassie, feels under-reported and scanty, though this may be because I worked at the organization where Blassie¿s effects finally landed and knew forensic anthropologists and archaeologists working on recovery teams. Poole tells a great deal of the story, but it feels as if it lacks a conclusion. The best part of Poole¿s story is the recognition of the changing perceptions of equality, and the breaking down of race-segregated and rank-separated burial sites and rituals. This is a fascinating theme with much to tell us about the changes in American society since the Civil War, and Poole gives us a tantalizing hint of the way cultural changes affect the permanent monuments to the nation¿s dead. In all, I found this an informative if slightly uneven read, with workman-like prose that varied in readability; I found myself re-writing sentences mentally, trying to streamline occasionally purple prose. Again, I think Poole¿s magazine background betrays itself here, as his interest in the minutia of Arlington prevent him from maintaining the critical remove that would have made this more than the good book it is and into a necessary book.
book58lover on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A military history of our country's dead. This book lays out the establishment of Arlington National Cemetery from its days as the home of Martha Washington's great-granddaughter who happened to be the wife of Robert E. Lee to the present. It describes some of the famous and not so famous residents and how they came to be interred there.Poole writes in an easy conversational style, even when describing battles and decisions by the military to inter there. I didn't expect to read so much about war but most of the graves are from wars we fought so I shouldn't have been surprised. I would recommend this book for anyone interested in regional and military history.
plumdog28 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On Hallowed Ground is is a biography of a house and its surrounding lands, detailing their transformation from a working plantation to a working cemetery. In fact, it is really the story of three relationships with Arlington - the Lees, Montgomery Meigs, and the living and dead who have occupied the space since. And Mr. Poole provides all three of these relationships in an easy, conversational style. No doubt, such a story is difficult to tell, and this story is much better when relating the relationship of the first two than it is the last. It does, however, provide some very interesting information and anecdotes regarding burials in the cemetery and the work of those who oversee those burials. Overall, a good read, especially for anyone who has had the privilege of walking among the sea of white tombstones overlooking our nation's capital.
mrkurtz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The story of Arlington National Cemetery is a history of burial grounds put on display as a shining example of the sacred trust that Americans hold for the brave men and women who have fought for their country. The story told by Robert Poole is full of interesting anecdotes and collected rituals and rites. Many of these rituals come from the Civil War which is the beginning of Arlington National Cemetery. Poole presents voluminous sources to show his extensive research. However, his documentation of the first superintendent of Arlington, General Montgomery Meigs, is slanted in favor of Meigs and all but a few of the sources are from the papers and letters of Meigs. With the Spanish-American War and new leadership for Arlington, the cemetery begins to grow in favor with the nation and the rift between north and south begins to heal. Poole does a better job of presenting a level account of burials and the rituals that are an important part of the American culture that is enshrined at Arlington. His accounts of the legacy of the unknown soldiers and the burial of President Kennedy ring true. Perhaps that is due to the fact that Poole has more data and evaluations of these events. The second two-thirds of Poole's history of Arlington National Cemetery is vastly improved over the first third.
corgiiman on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the prologue, the author writes "No other nation goes to the effort the United States does to recover and pay tribute to its war dead..." That is the effort I felt he put in this book. It is a great history of Arlington Cemetery from the historical home of George Wahington Parke Custis and Robert E. Lee to a cemetery for the Civil War dead and slaves to a Freedman"s Village to the present status as a National Cemetery.He honored many people with stories that few people hear about (ie. Pvt. Francis Lupo and William Christman). I judge a book by how many facts I learn that I didn't know before and there were many of those. One fact was about the many slaves being buried in the cemetery, the extensive effort in the burial of President Kennedy and the effort of the Lee family to recover ownership of the Arlington property (which they actually did by the order of the United States supreme Court, only to resell it to the government for fair market value of the time). Another story I learned about was the burial and disinterment of the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War. While it should never have happened, it was in an effort to try to heal the national wounds of the Vietnam era.I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to visiting Arlington again with more information than I had last time I visited. Mr. Robert Poole put part of his heart in this book and mixed facts with prose with such words as "Taps ringing clear and true over the cemetery, at once lamenting the loss of a young warrior and welcoming a new recruit for Arlington."
tymfos on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If you think that the history of a cemetery -- even a famous one -- wouldn't be all that interesting, think again. In the hands of Robert M. Poole, the story of Arlington National Cemetery emerges as a compelling microcosm of America and its history. I never realized how many aspects of American society have met (and occasionally have clashed) within the boundaries of that famous piece of property. From its founding during the Civil War when the property was confiscated from the family of rebel General Robert E. Lee (his wife had inherited a life-interest from her father, George Washington Parke Custis) through the burial of the most recent casualties in the War on Terror, Poole recounts the cemetery's story with a clear voice and shows us Arlington's proud place in American history.This book seemed to get better the further I read in it. I had expected to be most interested in learning more details of the cemetery's background story -- how the government took the property from the Lee family -- but it's really the story of the Arlington property as cemetery which was most fascinating, and my pace of reading seemed to pick up as the cemetery developed.Poole shows us how the process of recovering and identifying our war dead, and giving them due honor, has changed through the different wars our country has experienced. We see how issues of race and class have affected burials over the years as attitudes have changed, and how politics have often influenced what was done at Arlington. We see the development of rituals which are now part of the daily fabric of the cemetery. Poole also shows us little-known details of watershed moments in US and Arlington National Cemetery history. We experience the stressful, hectic preparations for JFK's funeral and relive the ceremonies from a slightly different point of view; we learn of the questionable burial and subsequent disinterment of the "Unknown Soldier" from the Vietnam War -- who was, it turns out, not so unknown after all; we see debris from the Pentagon scattering over the green lawns of Arlington on Sept. 11, 2001.This book is thoroughly researched and the notes and index are extensive. There is wonderful detail regarding both the history and the ceremony of the place. Poole provides a clear, readable narrative with great nuggets of information, gems of stories, occasionally a little graveyard humor, and even room for some tears. I was surprised how moving the book was -- OK, it's a book about a cemetery, so I guess maybe that shouldn't surprise me. But let me be clear: Poole wasn't sappy in his writing, just very descriptive; but simple descriptions of the cemetery's time-honored rituals and the stories behind them can be very moving. I most definitely recommend On Hallowed Ground to anyone who might be interested in the subject matter -- and even to some folks who might not initially think they'd find it interesting.
Dogberryjr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
On Hallowed Ground is, as its subtitle suggests, the story of Arlington national Cemetery. I like that the author, Robert Poole, has chosen the word "story" instead of "history" because that's exactly what he has provided: an engaging story of how Arlington came to be what it is today. Poole gives great time to the establishment of the cemetery, how it went from plantation to national treasure, charting its beginnings with the Custis family, its transfer to the Lee family (in guardianship, at least) and its eventual seizure by the Federal government at the beginning of the Civil War. He does not stop here, however, nor does he get too bogged down by details. Poole sketches the continuing story of the cemetery through each of America's wars. There are numerous fascinating facts and sidebars included throughout the book and Poole takes time to explain the whys of many things as they exist at Arlington, e.g. why are there a number of fancy tombstones and memorials scattered through the cemetery interrupting what would otherwise be a uniform collection of white tablets? He also corrects a myth or two about the place and pays tribute the the work of the Old Guard, the 3d U.S. Infantry, sentinels of this "garden of stone." The book is very well researched and the copious endnotes should satisfy any lingering curiosity the reader might have upon finishing the book.Fine reading and it makes me want to revisit the place.
laytonwoman3rd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A good work of non-fiction should be reader-friendly, full of well-organized information and annotated in a way that does not interfere with the flow of the narrative. Adding maps, photographs, and a couple thoughtful appendices will turn a good work of non-fiction into an excellent reference. Put all these elements together with a story-teller¿s flair for drama and an enthusiast¿s love of the subject matter, and the result is a great read, like On Hallowed Ground, the Story of Arlington National Cemetery. Robert Poole leads us from the early days of the American Civil War, when Robert E. Lee¿s home above the Potomac River was occupied by Union forces; to the first military burials on the grounds of the former plantation; to the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown in 1932; to September 11, 2001, when the peace of Arlington National Cemetery was shattered by the impact of a 757 slamming into the adjacent Pentagon. Along the way he relates innumerable heart-touching stories with the skill of a novelist, and imparts fascinating bits of factual information in full historical context. If you have visited Arlington, reading this book will add a dimension of understanding to the experience. If you haven¿t, it will make you wish to.
davidveal on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This fascinating book is a rich weaving of many, many stories of this most sacred plot of land in America. "This Hallowed Ground" was a brilliant idea, faithfully executed. There's scarcely a page that does not illicit a gasp or a tear. Wish the author had taken the time to tell us more about the history of that piece of land before the Civil War. Its location dictates that it must have been the scene of some worthwhile dramas in colonial and ante-bellum times.
MerryMary on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A thoroughly researched, thoroughly readable history of Arlington National Cemetery. I was absorbed by the story of this most heart-rending historic place. The story begins in the earliest days of the Civil War, when Robert E. Lee makes his final decision to go with his home state and fight for the Confederacy.His home is sacrificed in this decision and becomes the property of the Federal government. The ensuing 150 years show the metamorphosis of the southern plantation into a graceful, peaceful, dignified resting place for the heroes of our nation. There were plenty of bumps along the way, and some decisions have to be rethought. There is a certain amount of revenge-seeking and hatred behind early choices. But the individual stories slowly begin to heal separations and mend the divisions.A handy map clearly shows many of the special areas, and helps locate various aspects of the story. The Unknown Soldiers, the JFK funeral and the 9-11 victims trace the history of our country in a way that touches the heart.An interesting and well-written history that I highly recommend.
SgtBrown on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fantastic book. Arlington National Cemetery, the most hallowed ground in the United States, deserves to have a book written of this caliber. Mr. Poole does an excellent job of blending the history with the personal stories of the brave men and women who gave the last full measure of devotion to their country, as well as those tasked with keeping their memory alive.
Eskypades on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In On Hollowed Ground, Robert M. Poole tells the spell-binding history of the Arlington National Cemetery with detail and sobriety that is fitting for the final resting place of many heroes of our nation. He begins at the outset of the Civil War, chronicling how Arlington was taken from the family of Robert E. Lee (this error was later righted) and made into a burial ground for soldiers. Poole takes us on a journey through each successive war of the United States, telling how Arlington evolved with each conflict into the ¿hallowed ground¿ it is today.On Hallowed Ground tells not only the history of the land itself, but also the history of many of the monuments and traditions of the cemetery. From the 1,200-pound gun marking an artillery officer¿s grave to the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers to the Eternal Flame, each story is told with reverence and great detail. Especially moving were the narratives of each Unknown Soldier¿s journey to his final resting place. With each story, it is the lives of the people involved that make this book so captivating. The interviews with members of the Old Guard hearing them tell of the honor of being a part of Arlington¿s on-going history are stirring.Poole has taken what could have been a dry retelling of a graveyard¿s history, and has written instead an intimate account of a cherished resting place for many men and women. This book is a must read, especially for students of American history.
OldRoses on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I first became aware of Arlington National Cemetery after President Kennedy was assassinated. Like so much of the country during those dark days, I watched the funeral on television. Growing up during the sixties, Arlington was ever-present, as many of the young soldiers who died in Viet Nam were buried there. Yet it wasn¿t until a few years ago that I became aware that the site had originally been the plantation belonging to Robert E. Lee, the general who led the Confederate forces during the Civil War.I¿ve visited Washington, DC several times. On my most recent trip, I was able to visit Arlington. Several surprises were waiting for me. Lee¿s house is still standing. For some reason, I thought that it had been destroyed during the Civil War. There are areas with grave monuments that I would have expected to see in a civilian cemetery rather than the more austere uniform markers found in the rest of Arlington. Most puzzling was the placement of some of the memorials. Especially the mass grave in what looked to me to formerly be a garden.The answers to all of these mysteries are found in Robert Poole¿s excellent book on the history of Arlington. I hesitate to use the word ¿history¿ which conjures up the idea of a dry tome filled with names and dates and battles. Mr. Poole¿s book contains all of those but he tells his story in a more reader friendly manner. Just because this is a history written for a popular audience doesn¿t mean that it has been dumbed down at all. The author covers each major era in the history of Arlington, seemingly without omitting a single significant detail. He tells how the cemetery came into being, how the traditions we see today are the result of years of development some of them still evolving, and how and why burials were placed in the cemetery.The story of Arlington National cemetery is as much the story of the military and government officials of their times as it is about our country. I¿m sure that many readers will be surprised, as I was, to learn that Arlington was not always the revered place that it is today. After reading Mr. Poole¿s first-rate account, it¿s easy to understand how a need for burial space and one man¿s near obsession with appropriating the property of a traitor became a national symbol and coveted place to spend eternity. I¿m looking forward to visiting Arlington again, this time with a better understanding of it and with this book tucked under my arm.
redsox0407 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Robert M. Poole does an outstanding job of telling the captivating story of one of America's most sacred shrines. I had a very brief knowledge of some of the history behind Arlington National Cemetery before I read this book, but had no idea how many fascinating stories are attached to it from its inception, right through Sept 11th, 2001. It is absolutely amazing. Starting with the story of the Custis/Lee family's original ownership, then how the 'slighted' Montgomery Meigs dedicates the rest of his life in establishing the cemetery as a place that the Lee family could never come back to live is amazing. I found the chapter on John F. Kennedy's funeral and internment very touching. Poole gives you the feeling that you have gone through the sad ordeal yourself. I loved reading this book and have passed it on to close friend, who goes to the cemetery each year to pay his respects to those who have paid the price for our freedom. Every American should know this story. Nicely done Mr. Poole! Thank You.
tututhefirst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As a veteran of the US Navy, married to another Navy veteran (and retiree), I went out of my way to track this book down. Both of us are at a point in our lives where the subject of funerals comes up often, and we have attended dozens of funerals at Arlington to honor friends and shipmates. One of our biggest questions has always been "where do we want to be buried?" My children both live within 10 miles of Arlington, and until we moved to Maine 6 years ago, I literally drove past rows and rows of graves on my way to work in Arlington every morning for 16 years. While I don't qualify for burial on my own (I didn't do enough time to retire), my husband does, so I rate burial there as his spouse. But we both had sort of taken it off the short list because it seemed so big and impersonal. In fact, my husband used to work in the Navy Annex building up the hill from the Pentagon and overlooking the cemetery, and then later at the Pentagon, and says he's not sure he wants to spend eternity in site of his old offices. It is a beautiful, quiet, well-maintained park like space to stroll through, but stay there forever? Hmmmm...After reading Robert Poole's excellent story of the history, the sentiments, the politics, and the rich heritage of this glorious site, it's at least back in consideration. In telling the story of the cemetery, Poole takes us on a short but surprisingly robust tour of the valor and service of Americans from every military conflict between the Civil War up to the present sad goings-on in Afghanistan and Iraq. We learn where the land came from, how it was originally used, and then the subsequent acts of Congress and presidential proclamations making it what it is today - THE National military cemetery. In addition, we learn about the U.S. Army's outstanding efforts over the years, and continuing today, to identify and repatriate the bodies of Americans who died on foreign soil. Poole weaves numerous stories together: the family story of Robert E. Lee and his descendants who were the original owners of the property and their struggles after the Civil War to reclaim their family home; the story of the "father of Arlington National Cemetery" Brig Gen Montgomery C. Meigs; the story of the Lee's previous slaves -freedmen who stayed on the property long after the Civil War was over and the town they built; the individual stories showing the diversity of the many servicemen buried there; the building of the Memorial Bridge to signal a joining of the Union (Washington DC) with the defeated Confederacy (northern Virginia) leading directly into the cemetery (I think my brain always assumed it had just been there!); how the original Unknown Soldiers were chosen and the rigorous training and discipline of the Old Guard - the Army's elite unit who stand sentry duty 24/7 at the Tomb of the Unknowns; the story of the building of the Pentagon just before World War II; the story of the burial of the soldier who died in a nuclear reactor accident and whose body was so radioactive it had to be sealed in a lead coffin and buried in a concrete vault; and the conflict over the "unknown" from Vietnam who was subsequently disinterred, identified through DNA matching and re-buried near his home.There were sections that were particularly personal to both of us. My husband actually sang with the Naval Academy Catholic Choir at Kennedy's funeral. Although I watched it on TV, it was fascinating to read of all the decisions that had to be made, and the hasty but well-handled arrangements needed to produce this ceremony.I had to drive home on September 11th, 2001 passing the smoking Pentagon, threading my way carefully through thousands of dazed survivors wandering along the George Washington Parkway, all the time seeing nothing in my rear view mirror but a huge smoke cloud. Only later did we learn of the deaths of people we knew. Driving by Arlington after that became even more poignant, and to this day, neither of us (or anyone who l
lauranav on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book tells the history of how Arlington became the national cemetery that it is today. He covers the history of the Civil War and the decisions made by Robert Lee when he chose to serve Virginia instead of the Union. How the Union officers treated Arlington through the years and then it's transformation into the cemetery we know now. He does this with attention to history, politics, and the personal stories of those who worked there and those who were buried there. I found the book very readable and learned a lot about the efforts the Armed Forces have put in to recovering and identifying fallen soldiers in conflicts throughout the world. Recommended.
eleanor_eader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a fascinating history on a lot of levels, much more so than I expected ¿ the use of the Arlington estate as a cemetery began during America¿s devastating Civil War, and has remained an evolving presence right through to the present day, acting as a layered stratum of historic significance. Poole¿s book, accordingly, is a guide to US military history, US political history, the geography and architecture of the state, and Washington DC, as well as being a moving tribute to the soldiers who rest in Arlington; all neatly tied in with how the 600+ acres were shaped by America¿s history and war-time engagements. Within the broad sweep of history, Poole takes a closer look at some of the stories of those resting there, and some of the events ¿ other than wars ¿ that have added to its ranks of stones.What I liked most about this book was Poole¿s ability to describe the notions of duty, patriotism and heroism; America has risen on a tide of ideals and symbolism, and Poole injects his history with acknowledgement that Arlington, perhaps more than anywhere else, is infused with these things; he does this without ignoring or glossing over the more dubious history, the internal politicking that often went hand-in-hand with public opinion concerning America¿s war dead. His prose is, fittingly, both practical and elegant, and I found I had finished the book long before I was tired of reading about the cemetery and its interred military servicemen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tremendous book. Went to Arlington was in Spring 2001 - Tomb of the Unknowns was very moving. Definitely need to go back to pay my respects at the post-9/11 memorials.