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Published on: Monday, July 8, 2024 read more ...


Author: Allison S. Finkelstein, Ph.D., ANC Senior Historian
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Intellectual, Suffragist and Pathbreaking Federal Employee: Helen Hamilton Gardener


Courageous, risk-taking women have long shaped the ongoing struggle for gender equality in the United States. While Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) is most widely known as the resting place of many male military heroes, it also includes the graves of numerous prominent, pioneering women who were heroes in their own right. One such woman was Helen Hamilton Gardener (Section 3).

An intellectual, activist and champion of women’s rights, Helen Hamilton Gardner used her life experiences as inspiration for the social change she strongly advocated. Born Mary “Alice” Chenoweth, she sought independence early on by training at the Cincinnati Normal School to become a schoolteacher. At the time, teaching was one of the few acceptable paid professions for young women to pursue. She graduated in 1873 and took a position as a teacher in Sandusky, Ohio, where she quickly rose to become the principal of Sandusky’s new teacher training school.

Remembering the Sacred 20 at Arlington National Cemetery

America’s military women have long forged new paths and opened opportunities for American women to contribute to the betterment of our nation. One such group of trailblazing women, known as the “Sacred 20,” became the first women to serve in the U.S. Navy Nurse Corps, established in 1908. Three superintendents of the Navy Nurse Corps, and at least four other members of the Sacred 20, are buried at Arlington National Cemetery (ANC).

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration Lecture Series

In the months after the 2021 centennial of the creation of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) has continued to make the programs created for this anniversary accessible to the public online. On May 30, 2022—Memorial Day—ANC released a major virtual project as part of this ongoing effort: the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration Lecture Series.

Flowers of Remembrance Day: Inaugurating a New Tradition at Arlington National Cemetery

On Saturday May 28, 2022, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) will be inaugurating a new tradition: Flowers of Remembrance Day. During this ceremony, the public will be afforded the rare opportunity to walk on the plaza in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and place a flower there to memorialize our nation’s military dead. In conceptualizing the idea for this ceremony, ANC drew from several historical precedents and the events of the recent Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration to create a new, modern tradition for Memorial Day weekend. Since the cemetery’s early years, honoring the war dead with flowers has been a consistent ritual at ANC. This new iteration through Flowers of Remembrance Day forms yet another step in the evolution of this tradition. To help the public understand this ceremony’s intent and symbolism, this blog article explains the rich historical context surrounding this new event and situates it within the 158-year legacy of mili ...

The Centennial Flower Ceremony: Meaning, Symbolism and History

On November 9 and 10, 2021, the public will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to commemorate the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by participating in a special flower ceremony at the Tomb. Rife with meaning, this special event references significant moments and symbols from the Tomb’s history.

Commemorating the Nurses of the 1918 Influenza Pandemic

As our nation and the world face the COVID-19 pandemic, ANC’s team of historians has been looking back at another health crisis and reflecting upon how it impacted Arlington National Cemetery: the influenza pandemic of 1918 to 1919. We highlight the role of female military nurses during the influenza pandemic and how they are commemorated on Arlington’s memorial landscape. 

Memorial Day 2020: Commemoration through Education

As the epicenter of the nation’s official Memorial Day observance, May has traditionally been one of the busiest months for Arlington National Cemetery. In ceremonies large and small at our numerous memorials, and in personal moments of reflection at the graves of loved ones, Memorial Day at Arlington has remained a deeply meaningful experience for the past 152 years.