Washington DC MTDCommunity
Now joint base with Fort McNair and Henderson Hall.
Beginning life as a military post during the Civil War, Fort Myer has performed many functions since then. The acres encompassing Fort Myer and Arlington National Cemetery were called Arlington Heights when they were owned in the 1800s by Mary Anna Randolph, granddaughter of George Washington Parke Custis. Custis was Martha Washington’s grandson. Mary Anna Randolph married Robert E. Lee when he was a young Army lieutenant. Lee helped rescue the estate from financial disaster in 1858, then left the area in April of 1861 to lead the Confederate Army. The land was confiscated by the government for military purposes when the Lees were unable to pay their property taxes in person. Part of the estate became Arlington National Cemetery and the remainder Fort Whipple, named in honor of Major General Amiel Weeks Whipple, a division commander at Fort Cass which was established where the stables are today in August 1861.
The first military test flight of an aircraft was made from the Fort Myer parade ground on Sept. 9, 1908, when Orville Wright kept one of his planes in the air for one minute and 11 seconds. The second test flight ended in tragedy when, after four minutes of flight, the aircraft crashed. Wright was severely cut and bruised and his passenger, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, became the first powered aviation fatality.
Since 1946, Fort Myer has served as the Army’s “showcase” in the National Capital Region, as was ordered by Army Chief of Staff General J. Lawton Collins. While this notion of pageantry prevails at Fort Myer, the fort also provides administrative, housing and recreation support to active duty, reserve component, retired military and DoD civilian personnel in the region.