United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery
Located just north of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, commonly referred to as the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home, in Washington, D.C., lies the United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery, one of the country’s oldest national cemeteries. The cemetery’s rolling hills mark the final resting place for more than 14,000 veterans, including many who fought in the Civil War. Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery is one of two cemeteries maintained by the Department of the Army – the other being Arlington National Cemetery.
During the Civil War, churches and other public buildings around Washington were commandeered for use as military hospitals to care for wounded troops or those stricken with illness on the front lines. Just days after the Battle of Bull Run, the commissioners of the United States Military Asylum offered six acres of land at the north end of the home’s grounds as a burial ground for soldiers and officers. This offer was accepted in late July 1861, and the first burials were conducted later that summer.
From 1861 to 1864, the cemetery accepted thousands of soldiers’ remains from across the nation, which quickly filled its six acres. An 1874 report on the condition of the cemetery noted more than 5,600 interments, including 278 unknown, 125 Confederate prisoners of war and 117 civilians (relatives of the deceased and employees of the home). In 1883, nine acres were added to the grounds, bringing the cemetery’s size to nearly sixteen acres. In 1900, Confederate remains were reinterred in Section 16 of Arlington National Cemetery.
At the west corner of the cemetery stands the imposing main gate, which consists of four pairs of Doric order columns, each inscribed with the name of a well-known U.S. general, including George Washington, Winfield Scott and Ulysses S. Grant. Just inside the gate is the two-story superintendent’s lodge, built circa 1867, and the Logan Mausoleum, the most prominent burial monument at the cemetery.
Alfred Mullet, once the supervising architect of the Treasury Department, designed the granite, Norman-style mausoleum, which houses the remains of Maj. Gen. John A. Logan and his family. Maj. Gen. Logan served during the Mexican-American War, and was later a member of Congress from his home state of Illinois. At the outset of the Civil War, Logan organized a volunteer regiment, rising to the rank of major general. He returned to Congress after the war and in 1884 appeared on the Republican presidential ticket, losing a close election to Grover Cleveland. Logan also served an important role in the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), issuing General Order No. 11 in 1868, which called for the GAR to spread flowers on the graves of Union soldiers. On May 30 of the following year, the first Decoration Day took place, ultimately leading to the founding of Memorial Day.
Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery is also the final resting place of 21 recipients of the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.
Plan Your Visit
Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery is located at 21 Harewood Rd. NW in Washington, D.C. The cemetery is open every day of the year from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (open on Memorial Day until 7 p.m.).
While visiting, please be mindful that national cemeteries are hallowed ground. Be respectful to fallen service members and their families.
The cemetery’s phone number is 877-907-8585.