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Arlington National Cemetery’s Amphitheater Reveals 105 Yr Old Time Capsule Treasures
It would appear that 2020 is the year for unveiling many secrets and treasures hidden away for safekeeping by people, places, and things who are now apart of American history.
Although Arlington National Cemetery was and is still closed to the public due to Covid-19, the date of May 15, 2020, marked the centennial anniversary of the Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Amphitheater, as just a month earlier, the National Historian and Conservator participated in the opening and extraction of the copper box filled with the 105-year-old time capsule since the construction of the Arlington amphitheater began in 1915.
As we reflect back to 1974, it’s recorded that the time capsule was transported from the cornerstone when the east staircase facing the Tomb of the Unknown soldier was about to be added and covered the original cornerstone.
Never opened and still encased in its copper metal box, the time capsule was stored at the National Archives in 1976, it was returned to the cemetery and not installed in the new cornerstone at a different location in the structure until the 1990s renovation project.
Imagine if you will, this time capsule containing treasures from Woodrow Wilson’s Presidency which by the way included a signed picture of the late president who also participated in laying the original cornerstone on Oct. 13, 1915, and personally taking part in spreading the mortar before the stone was placed while the national anthem played on in the presence of 5,000 attendees.
The 2 1/2 hours of carefully crafting through the copper metal box unveiled a treasure trove of antiquities dating over one hundred years ago containing the following:
An advance copy of the dedication ceremony program
A Bible (signed by Thomas Hastings, the architect of the amphitheater) wrapped in brown paper and tied with red string. The Bible contained a thin blue ribbon within the Old Testament’s Book of Joshua’s first chapter, the only conclusion derived by this marker is noted that Hastings was the son of a Presbyterian minister.
A signed photograph of President Woodrow Wilson
Six coins (one of each cent)
A copy of the congressional hearings directory put into the amphitheater labeled “to be put in cornerstone,”
Uncirculated stamps with images of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin
Four local newspapers (The Evening Star, Washington Herald, Washington Post, and Washington Times)
Copies of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution which the historian noted stops at the 17th Amendment, due to the capsules creation date of 1915, there were documents missing historic moments while the amphitheater was completed, including the passage of the 19th Amendment, celebrating it’s centennial this year.
An American Flag with 46 stars although there were 48 states in 1915 which must have been randomly thrown in without thought because New Mexico and Arizona became the 47th and 48th states in 1912.
The D.C. Architect, Engineer & Designer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant’s blueprints for the building plans and maps of Washington D.C.
Boyd’s thick Directory of the District of Columbia, an annual directory of city residents.
Pamphlet labeled “Confederate Dead” Civil War veterans pamphlets and a program from the 1915 “encampment” of thousands of Civil War veterans near the U.S. Capitol.
Red Tape used to wrap various treasures
One hundred years from now our future generations will wonder what it what like to step back in time and placement of history during the Donald Trump Presidency, currently, there are plans being made to place a new time capsule in 2020 to be opened in 2120.
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