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Families Seeking Privacy Visit Arlington Cemetery Before Crowds

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Towanna Towns visited the grave of her uncle at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday. She says Monday's crowds can ruin the sense of peace and quiet that she likes.
Jonathan Wilson
Towanna Towns visited the grave of her uncle at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday. She says Monday's crowds can ruin the sense of peace and quiet that she likes.

As Towanna Towns walks down Eisenhower drive with her family. She holds a bouquet of roses that she'll soon lay on the grave of the uncle who raised her.

"I call him my dad, but he is my uncle. But, yeah, he's my dad," she says.

Towns says he served in the Gulf War and died at the age of 22, when she was just 6 years old.

Friday the flags on each grave herald the somber holiday that's just three days away. But Towns, who lives in Gaithersburg, won't be coming back on Monday.

"Today is the first day that my son and my daughter will actually get to meet or visit with their great uncle. So it's a fitting day for us to visit without all the people around," she says.

Over the course of Memorial Day weekend, the cemetery expects 75,000 visitors. For visitors who show up on Monday, the cemetery will be handing out 10,000 long-stemmed roses that they can place on the graves of loved ones. The roses were donated by the American and Ecuadorian Flower Growers.

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