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Arlington's McClellan Gate, completed 1879. / Evan Eile, USA TODAY

ANC 150, the five-week commemoration of 150 years of Arlington National Cemetery, kicks off Tuesday with an Army wreath-laying ceremony at the grave site of Army Pvt. William Christman, the first military burial at Arlington.

Christman enlisted in the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry on March 25, 1864, at the age of 20. He was hospitalized for measles five weeks later and died. Christman was buried at Arlington on May 13 of that year.

After the wreath ceremony, members of the Christman family will spend time at his grave. Rick Bodenschatz, representing the Tobyhanna Township Historical Association, will also place a stone of remembrance from the original Christman home. The family home, located in Pocono Lake, Pa., , was built from funds received from Christman's Army service.

Following the initial ceremony, Stephen Carney, Arlington National Cemetery command historian, will discuss the history of the cemetery at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

The commemoration will conclude June 16, the day after Arlington was established as a national cemetery, with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Arlington Cemetery sits on land in Virginia on the border of Washington, D.C. The land had been the estate of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but the Union Army occupied the estate after Virginia seceded from the Union. The estate was turned into a burial ground in part to spite Lee, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

Read the original story: Arlington National Cemetery marks 150 years

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