Arlington National Cemetery is the final resting place of over 420,000 service members and their family members. All of the service members that lay to rest at Arlington sacrificed a great deal for this country and its values, but some made the ultimate sacrifice. Throughout the cemetery, you will find large government issued headstones called group burial markers. They are for services members who made the ultimate sacrifice together in the same tragedy or attack such as a helicopter crash or an explosion.
The remains of the service members are co-mingled. Most of the group burial markers at ANC are government issued headstones. They list the names of each service member who died. Group burials are not to be confused with unknown graves. The individuals are known, but due to the way they perished their remains, they are not able to be separated so the Department of Defense orders that their remains be interred together. There are 100s of group burial markers at the cemetery.
Examples of group burials in the cemetery include the USS Serpens group marker, the Pentagon Group Burial Marker, and the Tomb of the Civil War Unknown. The USS Serpens Memorial is dedicated to the largest single disaster suffered by the United States Coast Guard. The USS Serpens was a 14,250-ton ammunition ship that exploded off the coast of Guadalcanal killing 250 service members. There were only ten survivors. Eight of survivors were ashore on administrative business when the ship exploded.
The Pentagon Group Burial marker holds the co-mingled remains of those who lost their lives when American airlines flight 77 hit the pentagon on September 11, 2001. The marker is in section 64 which can be visited on the Weekend Route tour.
The Tomb of the Civil War Unknown is a group burial marker and an unknown marker. It holds the remains of 2,111 unknown union and confederate soldiers from the fields of Bull Run. This group marker is a bit different than the others because the service member did not all die in the same incident. They all died in the same battle and their remains were unable to be gathered immediately. Finally, when the remains were gathered they were co-mingled and unable to be identified.
These are just a few of the group burial markers at Arlington National Cemetery. Many more can be viewed while riding on the tour. Take the time to honor and remember all the service members that made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
Arlington National Cemetery
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