More than 80 years after these words were spoken and 65 years after the end of Civil War, which threatened the "firmly established union," Arlington Memorial Bridge opened to traffic on May 6, 1932. Symbolically, the bridge was designed to show the strength of a united nation by joining a memorial on the north side of the Potomac River (the Lincoln Memorial) with one on the south (Arlington House, the Robert E. Lee Memorial). Memorial Bridge and Avenue also connect the nation's capital to Arlington National Cemetery, where thousands who died fighting to preserve democratic government were laid to rest.
Construction of the bridge began in 1926, and ended in 1931. Arlington Memorial Bridge, Memorial Avenue, and the grand entrance to Arlington National Cemetery were dedicated on January 16, 1932. However, the bridge was not fully opened to traffic until May 6, 1932. The firm of McKim, Mead, and White served as the bridge's architects.
Architectural elements like granite facing; formal, neoclassical design; sculptures of eagles and vases; and bas relief bison, poppies, and oak leaves invoke national strength and unity. Seven memorials were installed along Memorial Avenue: the first in 1961 and the last in 2001.