04.14.19: View from the stage

The view from the stage of the Memorial Amphitheater,
Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.


Technical information

Aug. 24, 2017,
3:22 p.m.

38°52'34.999" N 77°4'22.999" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 (10mm)


1/8000th second


I’ve made numerous visits to Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C., and have many photos of solemn scenes showing seemingly endless rows of identical white headstones that cover the site's rolling hills.

And I’ve spent hours in quiet solitude, watching the tomb guard march the 21 steps to cover the distance in front of the Tomb of the Unknowns before turning, pausing, and marching the 21 steps again.

But until a 2017 visit I had never turned to the west of the Tomb of the Unknowns and entered the Memorial Amphitheater. It’s an impressive structure.

The amphitheater was completed and dedicated in May 1920 and has been visited by every president since Woodrow Wilson. 

Memorial services are common at the amphitheater, including funerals for the likes of General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing and Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the famed Antarctic explorer. In 2002, the amphitheater was the site of a funeral service for the unidentified remains of 30 victims of the September 11 attack on the Pentagon.

An Easter sunrise service has been held at Memorial Amphitheater every year since 1931. 

As I roamed the amphitheater I ended up on the stage. My eyes were drawn to the arched ceiling above the marble columns. The arch, combined with the columned back wall of the amphitheater, framed a blue sky filled with bright clouds. So I grabbed a shot.

There’s nothing in the scene that indicates it is at Arlington National Cemetery … or any other cemetery. It looks Roman and timeless, with the columns and architecture.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.