Arlington National Cemetery marks 150 years

Arlington National Cemetery marks 150 years

Credit: Getty Images

ARLINGTON, VA - DECEMBER 14: Marine Sgt. James Kledzik pauses while looking for a tombstone to place a wreath on, in Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, December 14, 2013 in Arlington, Virginia. Volunteers and families of the fallen placed thousands of remembrance wreaths on headstones throughout the cemetery on National Wreaths Across America Day. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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by JOHN BACON

USA Today

Posted on May 13, 2014 at 8:30 AM

Updated Tuesday, May 13 at 8:47 AM

ANC 150, the five-week commemoration of 150 years of Arlington National Cemetery, kicks off Tuesday with an Army wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Army Pvt. William Christman, the first military burial at Arlington.

Christman enlisted in the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry on March 25, 1864, at the age of 20. He was hospitalized for measles five weeks later and died on May 11 of that year. Christman was buried at Arlington on May 13.

After the wreath ceremony, members of the Christman family will spend time at his grave. Rick Bodenschatz, representing the Tobyhanna Township Historical Association, will also place a stone of remembrance from the original Christman home. The family home, located in Pocono Lake, was built from funds received from Christman's Army service.

Following the initial ceremony, Stephen Carney, Arlington National Cemetery command historian, will give a lecture about the history of Arlington National Cemetery at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

The commemoration will conclude on June 16, the day after Arlington was established as a national cemetery, with a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Arlington Cemetery sits on land in Virginia on the border of Washington, D.C. The land had been the estate of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, but the Union army occupied the estate after Virginia seceded from the Union. The estate was turned it into a burial ground in part as a way to spite Lee, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy.

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