ARLINGTON, Va. -

Descendants of the first soldier buried at Arlington National Cemetery participated Tuesday in a wreath-laying ceremony commemorating the interment's 150th anniversary.

The ceremony at the grave of Union Pvt. William Henry Christman kicks off a month of activity marking the sesquicentennial of the cemetery across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C.

Christman, a member of the 67th Pennsylvania Infantry from Tobyhanna Township, Monroe County, was buried May 13, 1864, after contracting a case of measles. The land was officially designated as a military cemetery a month later.

Great-grandnephews and nieces of Christman attended the wreath-laying.

Arlington Cemetery sits on land that had been the home of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. The Union army occupied the estate after Virginia seceded from the Union and turned it into a burial ground in part as a way to spite Lee.

According to its website, the cemetery performs as many as 30 funerals every day. More than 400,000 active duty service members, veterans and their families are buried there.