Sacred Ground: A Portrait of Arlington National Cemetery

A bugler plays "Taps" at Arlington National Cemetery, 1965.
George Silk—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
A bugler plays "Taps" at Arlington National Cemetery, 1965.

Millions of words have been written about Arlington National Cemetery through the years, but none can ever do justice to the singular atmosphere of the place itself. From its founding in 1866, just a year after the cataclysmic Civil War ended, through other, global conflicts, stunning scandals and massive cultural and political change, the 600 acres situated across the Potomac from the Lincoln Memorial have constituted sacred ground for generations of Americans.

Here, on Memorial Day weekend more than 150 years after the first troops were interred there, offers a series of photographs made at Arlington by George Silk. Never published in LIFE magazine, Silk’s pictures are appropriately quiet, reflective portraits of a small corner of the country that occupies a special, prominent place in the national consciousness.

[Buy the LIFE book, The Power and the Glory: An Illustrated History of the United States Military.]

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