Protect the Historic Context of Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 13, 2013
Contact:   Alison Zemanski Heis, Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, P: 202.454.3332; C: 202.384.8762
Joy M. Oakes, Senior Mid-Atlantic Regional Director, National Parks Conservation Association, C: 202.329.6815


Protect the Historic Context of Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery

Statement by Joy M. Oakes, Senior Mid-Atlantic Regional Director for the National Parks Conservation Association

BACKGROUND: Twelve years ago, Congress transferred 12 acres, half of the remaining Arlington House woods, from Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, to the Department of Defense for use by Arlington National Cemetery. This action put two fundamental American values -- honoring our veterans, and protecting our national parks -- in conflict. The public and the Army have been left with the challenge of determining a design for the cemetery's expansion that does justice to both values. Congress recognized the national and historical significance of the Arlington estate, and Lee's singular leadership in reconciling our divided country in the years following the Civil War, by establishing the site as a memorial to Lee in 1925, and by adding the estate to the National Park System in 1933 to be preserved and protected for our children and grandchildren. 

Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery are iconic places, recognized and cherished by Americans across the country.  The Arlington House, Robert E. Lee Memorial buildings and grounds tell some of the most compelling and complex stories of our shared American heritage. Arlington House was built as a memorial to our first president, George Washington, and was the home of one of history's most effective military leaders, Robert E.  Lee. Burials for Union soldiers began on the estate during the Civil War, after the Lee family left their home in the spring of 1861. The stories of the people formerly enslaved at Arlington House, and of contrabands living in the Freedman’s Village on the estate grounds, provide additional chapters in this site's complex history.
 
“Like Arlington House, Arlington National Cemetery is an important part of our national heritage.  Arlington National Cemetery is a place that demands particular respect, and the highest standards. When Congress transferred half of the Arlington House Woods to the Army, it recognized the challenges presented by developing the wooded and steeply-sloped site, directing that the contours of land be respected as the site was designed for burials. While the design has improved since earlier proposals that envisioned removing almost all of the woods, it is still not worthy of the obligation to the cemetery or the national park.

“Planners discussed, but have yet to analyze, an alternative design that would site part of the access road on lands that today are open space, and would use the edge of the woods for columbaria and the remainder of the access road. Instead, the officially-preferred design would bridge the steep ravine, move more than 100,000 cubic yards of earth, and fragment the historic Arlington House woods. NPCA has requested an Environmental Impact Statement in order to analyze an alternative that would better respect the contours of the site and its historic context.
 
“Research continues to reveal new and meaningful aspects of the national park's history. The opportunity for future generations to learn about and reflect upon, the legacy of Arlington House must be preserved. Moving forward, all parties concerned should continue to work towards a design that respects the values of the national park and honors those who are, and who will be, interred at Arlington.”

###

Close

Want to learn more about the  ?

The   can be seen in the wild in America’s national parks. Why not join the National Parks Conservation Association community to protect and preserve our national parks?

Sign up to protect parks in   & other states

Why not join the National Parks Conservation Association Community to protect and preserve our national parks?

Sign up to protect   and other National Parks

Why not join the National Parks Conservation Association Community to protect and preserve our national parks?

Please leave this field empty
Yes, please sign me up for NPCA’s newsletter and other emails about protecting our national parks!

National Parks Conservation Association
National Parks Conservation Association

Log In

Or log in with your connected Facebook or Twitter account:

GO

Welcome to our growing community of park advocates. Thanks for signing up!

Sign Up:

Or sign up by connecting your Facebook or Twitter account:

GO