Go someday and be healed at the well of America's soul.
The quietest, most revered real estate in the nation is the most important this week. It is always the most important place, for its tree-lined hills and long flat open ranges are hallowed.
We made it sacred. The men and women buried there blessed it with their blood.
We need sacred this week.
Arlington National Cemetery is the nation's center on Nov. 11, as it should be. It's Veteran's Day — the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month that ended the War to End All Wars. But of course, World War I didn't end wars at all.
The day that honors all military veterans could not have come at a better time.
Every four years we celebrate during election week, although all those previous elections now seemed to have been courtly, mannerly and intellectual garden parties opposed to the one we have just endured. Did it not leave you feeling grubby and disheveled even if your side won, like having been hit by an unannounced cheap shot in a bar fight?
Our bruises need a break from democracy this week.
The 400,000 citizens of Arlington know all about the pain that democracy sometimes imposes. Theirs was real; ours is psychosomatic.
The hostility and meanness are over now, at least for the moment. It you seek a reason to bathe your soul in reflection and context, think of Arlington's headstones this week. Think of their voices and their gift to you.
You cannot honestly be indifferent there. If any place in the world can draw you toward sobriety, Arlington would be that place.
Even the drums of the Army's Old Guard guiding fellow soldiers to their final rest are muffled. Only the hooves tugging the funeral livery on the pathways clank gently in the fall air.
Veteran's Day makes us think about what electoral bruising we put ourselves through, and what others did to us in the name of seeking our approval.
Standing there on a bright fall morning every four years after the next president is picked will remind you that even vitriolic elections are mostly shadow boxing matches.
Old mimes pushing on invisible box walls.
That pain is melodramatically figurative, though draining and destructive. We eventually will see if this test made us stronger, or weakened our tolerance.
Arlington is real and demands contemplation of what we have required of others.
You can be philosophical there without much effort. John and Jackie Kennedy are there. Bobby and Teddy Kennedy are, too.
Arlington might seem immutable, except for its inevitable growth.
But that was never true.
Federal government troops crossed the Potomac in 1861 after Gen. Robert E. Lee left his 200-acre estate to command the Confederate Army of Virginia. This is Arlington. The feds seized the estate in 1864 because Lee's wheelchair-bound wife, Mary Lee, failed on time to pay a $92.07 tax bill.
To guarantee Lee could ever come home to Washington's doorstep, Union generals turned the grounds turned into a military cemetery and ordered the graves be dug as close to Lee's mansion as possible.
But America eventually chooses justice if nothing else is handy.
So in 1882 the Supreme Court ruled Uncle Sam had snatched Lee's estate unfairly and ordered 17,000 graves exhumed, including those of 4,000 former slaves who were given homes on the grounds.
But Lee's son saved the nation from that horror by selling the land to Washington for $150,000.
Arlington was saved.
And thus it became the resting place for the Tombs of the Unknown Soldiers whom the president will honor this week with the wreath laying.
There are three official Unknowns — one each from World Wars 1 and 2 and another from the Korean War — though 5,000 unknown American soldiers are buried there, many from the Civil War.
An unknown from the Vietnam War was entombed in 1984, then exhumed in 1998 and identified by DNA testing as Air Force First Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. He was reburied at a military cemetery in Missouri.
DNA testing is too precise now. There likely will no more Unknowns, ever.
Arlington remains a place where old feelings, old losses, old hopes can be reconsidered, and it's a bustling though subdued mausoleum. Every day except Sunday, 30 veterans are buried there. The muffled drums roll; the bugles call out.
It remains a place of repose for those buried there, and peace for us.
This is a week when we all need that peace.
David Rutter was editor for 40 years at six newspapers.