The Statue Commemorating the Spanish-American War Can Be Found in This Emblematic Cemetery

Isaac Vallenilla
 | March 13, 2023

Credit: Lorin Granger/HLS Staff Photographer

The location of this landmark is iconic for some since the Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most critical places in the United States. 

But you might wonder what makes this cemetery so special. Well, did you know that there is a monument commemorating the Spanish-American War within it?

Let’s take it from the start. 

First of all, George Washington Parke Custis was the original owner of the Arlington estate. Parke Custis married Mary Lee Fitzhugh and their daughter, Mary Anna Lee Cutis, married Confederate General Robert E. Lee years later. Lee took possession of the land, which was later confiscated.  

Shortly after, Union troops occupied the property on May 24, 1861. Consequently, Arlington House became the Union army headquarters and the estate was incorporated into the defensive works around the capital.

A few years later, in 1864, Arlington became a national cemetery. This was significant because, during that time, the national cemeteries were full. So, Soldier’s Home and Alexandria National Cemetery closed and burials began at Arlington.

Spanish-American War Veterans Memorial

For many years, Cuba struggled for independence from Spain. However, thanks to the help of the United States, it was victorious. After the explosion of the U.S.S Maine in the port of Havana, the Spanish-American War was declared. The war lasted only three months and was fought over the Spanish colonies of Cuba and the Philippine Islands. Not only the independence of Cuba was achieved, but also Puerto Rico and Guam became colonized by the United States.

United Spanish War Veterans Memorial – also known as “The Hiker” – is a monument erected in 1965 to commemorate the Spanish-American War as part of a series of monuments lining Memorial Avenue, which is the entrance to Arlington National Cemetery.

Read more: Did You Know? Juan Rodriguez Was the First Immigrant to Land in New York City

Why is the United Spanish War Veterans Memorial also called ‘Hiker’?

The hikers were privates led by Theodore Roosevelt who participated in the Battle of San Juan Hill on July 1, 1898. Therefore, it can be said that the symbol of the hikers has a romantic connotation and represents the glory and adventure of war.

Another important note is that Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson designed the Hiker. The first version was created for the University of Minnesota in 1906. Since then, at least 50 copies have been constructed and erected across the country.

The Hiker is an 8-foot-tall bronze sculpture. The soldier is standing in a resting position and wearing a hat, tunic, and pants. These are characteristics of warfare in tropical climates.

Things You Should Know Before You Visit:

  • Arlington National Cemetery has more Spanish-American War memorials and gravesites than any other place in the United States.
  • The National Cemetery encompasses 639 acres overlooking the Potomac River across from Washington, D.C.
  • Approximately 400,000 veterans and their dependents are buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • You can tour the cemetery with Arlington National Cemetery Tours.

Location: Arlington, Virginia

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