Arlington is well known as the final resting ground of America's heroes, Presidents, and military greats, but it's rarely thought of as a literary destination. However, amongst its 300,000+ permanent residents, surely one or two would able to turn a phrase, right? Let's take a look at a few:
- John F. Kennedy - The most visited grave at Arlington; there's plenty to discuss when seeing President Kennedy's grave. But, often overlooked, President Kennedy is the only President to win the Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded the 1957 Prize for Biography or Autobiography for his work on Profiles of Courage, a study of eight US Senators who defied their Party and/or public opinion to stand for what they believed in. The book, written when Kennedy was himself a Senator, raised his profile on the national level and added a layer of gravitas to his youthful appearance. Of course, perhaps "author" is too strong for this work, maybe we should refer to him as the "literary producer" of Profiles of Courage and move on.
- Dashiell Hammett - One of the greatest American mystery writers; the New York Times referred to him as "the dean of the ... 'hard-boiled' school of detective fiction." Hammett was able to draw upon his real life experiences as a Pinkerton detective, a position he left during World War I to join the Army Motor Ambulance Corps. His novel Red Harvest was judged by Time Magazine to be one of the 100 best novels from 1923 to 2005, but he is better known for the Maltese Falcon and it's protagonist, detective Sam Spade. During World War II, Hammett finagled a spot in the Army again, despite his disabled status from the First World War and ongoing issues with tuberculosis, and served in the Aleutian Islands. After the war, he would run afoul of McCarthyism and would be buried in section 12, Lot 508 of Arlington upon his death in 1961.
- Charles Willeford - Another of the "hard-boiled detective novel" genre (do they get their own shelf in the library or somthing?), three of Charles Willeford's sixteen novels; Cockfighter, Miami Blues, and The Woman Chaser; were adapted to the big screen. A Regular Army soldier prior to Pearl Harbor; the war found him in a Calvary regiment in California, where, I kid you not, he was assigned as a horseholder in a machine gun troop. Machine guns and horse drawn calvary proving to be pretty incompatible in modern warfare, he then served in the European theater with distinction in an Armored Division. Quentin Tarantino would later cite Willeford's work as an inspiration for Pulp Fiction. Master Sergeant Charles Willeford is interred in Columbarium Court #2, Section T, Stack 4, Niche 2.
- Bill Mauldin - Mauldin won the Pulitzer prize twice but was best known for his editorial cartoon Willie and Joe, which tells the story of two long-suffering infantrymen during World War II. Initially working for his Infantry Division's newspaper as a volunteer, he was transferred to Stars and Stripes, the independent newspaper operating within the Army, in 1944. His irreverent take on life on the front often bothered senior officers. General Eisenhower had to personally intervene when Gen. Patton threatened to "throw his ass in jail". After the War, Mauldin continued his career as a cartoonist, and is well known for his cartoon of the Lincoln at the Memorial sobbing following the death of Kennedy. After his death in 2003, Bill Mauldin was buried in Section 64, Lot 6974.
- Ludwig Bemelmans - Ok, everyone together now: "In a old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two staright lines". Well known as the author of the Madeline stories, Ludwig Bemelmans, authored numerous other children and adult works, painted the mural of Central Park in the Carlyle Hotel in New York as well as the children's room in Aristotle Onasis's yacht, and achieved renown as a gourmet and restaurateur. After reportedly shooting the headwaiter in his uncle's hotel in Austria, Bemelmans ended up in America shortly before World War I. While the nation was caught up in a certain degree of anti-German hysteria, Ludwig Bemelmans, spent a reasonably uneventful war as a Army hospital orderly in upstate New York. He tells the story with a great deal of humor in his book My War with the United States, noting the relative lack of discipline in the American military compared to his homeland. After he shot a couple of warning shots to rule breakers who refused to follow lights out in his hospital, his Colonel had to caution him, "The basic function of a Hospital, Private Bemelmans, is to cure men, not to shoot them." While Ludwig Bemelmans did attend officer training and was briefly commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, he is buried in Section 43, Lot 2618 as his highest permanent rank of Corporal.
These are some of the better know literary figures interred in Arlington. Feel free to add any others in the comments.