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military history

On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery

Robert M. Poole.
Publisher Walker  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.5 x 5.75 x 1.1 inches
ISBN 9780802715487
Pages/Publication Date 353/2009
Daedalus Item Code 31915
This item is not available.
"Along Eisenhower Drive, as far as the eye could see, the grave markers formed into bone-white brigades, climbed from the flats of the Potomac River, and scattered over the green Virginia hills in perfect order. They reached Arlington's highest point, where they encircled an old cream-colored mansion with thick columns and a commanding view of the cemetery, the river, and the city beyond. The mansion's flag, just lowered to half-staff, signaled that it was time to start another day of funerals, which would add more than twenty new conscripts to Arlington's army of the dead." Robert Poole describes a day like so many others in the long and storied history of Arlington National Cemetery, in the prologue to his up-close, behind-the-scenes chronicle of America's most sacred ground. Created towards the end of the Civil War, its story reflects much of the country itself over the past century and a half. The mansion at its heart, and the rolling land on which it sits, had been the family plantation of Robert E. Lee before he joined the Confederacy. It subsequently became a Union headquarters, a haven for freedmen, and a burial ground for indigent soldiers before Secretary of War Edwin Stanton made it the latest in the newly established national cemetery system. No other country makes the effort the United States does to recover and pay tribute to its war dead—an effort Poole reveals in poignant details from the aftermaths of the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, and the conflicts in the Gulf and Afghanistan today. Every tombstone at Arlington tells a story, from Private William Christman, the first soldier buried there, on May 13, 1864, to Union General Montgomery Meigs, who conceived of the cemetery in the first place; from Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, the first casualty of powered flight, to Audie Murphy, America's most decorated soldier; and from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to John F. Kennedy's eternal flame.

"In the folds of its hills on the Virginia shore of the Potomac, where its vast array of white tombstones evokes the mesmerizing image of an assembled army in its last resting place, Arlington National Cemetery splendidly honors the generations of self-sacrifice embodied in the nation's military dead. It also encapsulates the flawed story of a country still struggling to come to terms with the human cost of its wars. The central character in On Hallowed Ground, Robert M. Poole's gracefully written, often deeply affecting history, cannot speak. However, Poole succeeds grandly in giving voice to the more than 600 acres of what virtually all Americans consider sacred soil."—Washington Post

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