Descendants of private who was 1st burial at Arlington Cemetery to be at 150th anniversary

The Associated Press
May 13, 2014 04:37 AM

U.S. Army honor guard members arrive at the gravesite of Army Pvt. William Christman, who was the first military burial at the cemetery, marking the beginning of commemorations of the 150th anniversary of Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Tuesday, May 13, 2014. Christman, 20, enlisted in the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry and was hospitalized for measles five weeks later, dying on May 11, 1864 and buried at Arlington on May 13. (AP Photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. - Descendants of the first soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery have participated in a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the burial's 150th anniversary.

The ceremony Tuesday at the grave of Union Pvt. William Christman kicks off a month of activity commemorating the sesquicentennial of the cemetery just outside Washington, D.C.

Christman was buried May 13, 1864, after contracting a case of measles. The land was officially designated as a military cemetery a month later.

Great-great-grandnephews and nieces of Christman are attended the wreath-laying.

Arlington Cemetery sits on land that had been the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee, who led the Confederate rebel army in the Civil War. The Union army occupied the estate after Virginia seceded from the Union, and turned it into a burial ground in part as a way to spite Lee.

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