Super Cities №98 - Rituals, Artifacts, and Honoring The Dead

Brendan Hart

Arlington has incredibly powerful rituals and artifacts

“More than three million tourists pass through the cemetery each year.”


All great institutions have rituals and artifacts, but the American military has more than most.

One of the military’s most sacred rituals is honoring those who have served and sacrificed.

Arlington National Cemetery, on over 600 acres outside Washington, D.C., is the most famous military cemetery — the final resting place for, on average, twenty-five men and women every day.

But Arlington is much more than a cemetery for our nation’s warriors.

Through its rituals and artifacts, Arlington is an experience in sacrifice and honor.

The physical structures — including The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Eternal Flame — are both humbling and awe-inspiring. They bring people to tears.

The same is true of what happens at Arlington, including a solemn activity that will take place over this holiday weekend.

On Monday, in remembrance of Memorial Day, volunteers will place a flag at every headstone and monument in the ceremony.

All 400,000 of them.

This ritual, performed by more than a thousand volunteers, carries a simple yet powerful message: “We remember you. We honor you.”

And those six words, delivered through rituals and preserved through artifacts, will continue to inspire generations of our friends, families, and warriors.

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