Photograph - Digital Photography
A riderless horse, with boots reversed in the stirrups, stands honor at the funeral of an Army officer at Arlington National Cemetery. I took a series of photographs of this funeral in Arlington at the request of a friend, it was her father's funeral and she wanted a record of it.
Arlington National Cemetery is a beautiful, haunting place. Sacred ground. Unfortunately, I have attended many funerals there-- a friend, my father, the parents of friends. I cannot go into Arlington without intense emotion and I hope my photographs do it some little bit of justice.
The single riderless horse that follows the caisson with boots reversed in the stirrups is called the "caparisoned horse" in reference to its ornamental coverings, which have a detailed protocol all to themselves. By tradition in military funeral honors, a caparisoned horse follows the casket of a military officer who was a Colonel, Navy Captain, or above, or the casket of a President, by virtue of having been the nation's military Commander-in-Chief.
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna (Custis) Lee, a great grand-daughter of Martha Washington. The cemetery is situated directly across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
In an area of 624 acres, veterans and military casualties from each of the nation's wars are interred in the cemetery, ranging from the American Civil War through to the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Pre-Civil War dead were reinterred after 1900.
Arlington National Cemetery and United States Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery are administered by the Department of the Army. The other national cemeteries are administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs or by the National Park Service. Arlington House, The Robert E. Lee Memorial (the Custis-Lee Mansion) and its grounds are administered by the National Park Service as a memorial to Lee.
From the official Arlington National Cemetery website, www.arlingtoncemetery.mil: Arlington National Cemetery is both the most hallowed burial ground of our Nation's fallen and one of the most visited tourist sites in the Washington, DC, area. A fully operational national cemetery since May 1864, Arlington National Cemetery conducts an average of 27 funerals each workday--final farewells to fallen heroes from the fronts of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to veterans of World War II, the Korean conflict, Vietnam and the Cold War and their family members.
The grounds of Arlington National Cemetery honor those who have served the nation and their families by providing a sense of beauty and peace. The rolling green hills are dotted with trees (some that are older than the cemetery itself), monuments and gardens throughout the 624 developed acres of the cemetery. This impressive landscape serves as a tribute to the service and sacrifice of every individual and their families laid to rest within the hallowed grounds of Arlington National Cemetery.
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December 19th, 2012
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