The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier | History & Facts 2023
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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The tomb of the unknown soldier was made in 1921. The unknown veterans and all soldiers were laid to rest in the tomb of the unknown soldier.

On Veterans Day 1921 President Warren G. Harding conducted an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for an unknown who died in world war 1.

After that three more soldiers were added to the tomb of the unknown soldier.

Not every soldier is recognized for his heroic actions

Indeed one of the countless tragedies of war is that the bodies of many soldiers are never even identified.

on August 3rd, 1956 three years after the end of the Korean War President Dwight D Eisenhower signed a bill to select and pay tribute to the unknown soldiers of the Korean War and WWII.

These soldiers would be buried in the tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.

   The Tomb of the Unknowns Was Made Why?

The Tomb of the Unknowns was created in response to the mass casualties of World War Ithe idea of honoring the unknown dead of which there were so many in World War I began in Great Britain in 1920 and in March 1921.

The USA congress approved a plan to return the body of an unknown American soldier from the war and bury him with full honors in a tomb to be constructed at the memorial amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery.

On Memorial Day 1921 unknown soldiers were exhumed from World War 1 American cemeteries in France.

They were placed in four identical caskets and set before a highly decorated veteran of that war US Army Sergeant Edward F younger, Sergeant younger ceremonially selected one casket.

He later spoke of his decision

“I was left alone in the chapel there were four coffins all unmarked and unnamed the one that I placed the roses on would be the one brought home and placed in the national shrine I walked around the coffins three times then suddenly I stopped what caused me to stop I don’t know it was as though something had pulled me I placed the roses on the coffin in front of me I can still remember the odd feeling that I had standing there alone”

The chosen Unknown was transported to the United States aboard the USS Olympia those remaining were interred in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in France.

The selected unknown lay in state at the Capitol Rotunda until midnight on November 10th, 1921
on November 11th Armistice Day.

The casket of that Unknown Soldier

The casket of that Unknown Soldier was carried from the Rotunda to Arlington National Cemetery under a military escort behind the caisson bearing the flag-draped casket walked President Harding, Vice President Coolidge Chief Justice Taft, and the other justices of the Supreme Court, members of the cabinet Senate and House of Representative’s, generals and other distinguished officers from America’s Wars and recipients of the Medal of Honor.

President Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies at the memorial amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery he conferred upon the Unknown Soldier the Medal of Honor and the Distinguished Service Cross.

representatives of foreign governments allied with the USA  in World War I  participated as well the stowing upon the unknown their own highest military awards.

The United States reciprocated this gesture by honoring an unknown soldier from the nations of France Great Britain Belgium, Italy, and Romania with the medal of honor.

In the history of the Medal of Honor, these are the only five instances in which the award was presented to a foreign soldier.

After World War II plans were made for the selection and burial of an unknown from that war but fighting in Korea broke out before the selection process had begun the decision was made to postpone until a more appropriate time.

That time turned out to be 1958 when unknowns from World War II and the Korean War were selected for burial in the tomb of the unknowns.

The final selection of the unknown from the Korean War took place on May 15th, 1958 all of the unknown war dead from that war had been buried in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

In that place for candidates for burial in the tomb of the unknowns were placed in identical caskets draped with American flags.

Master Sergeant Ned Lyle a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross for heroic action in Korea was designated to make the final selection he placed a wreath of blue and white carnations on one casket and saluted the remains of the soldier inside the selection of the world war two unknown took place eleven days later aboard the USS Canberra.

Earlier stages of the selection process had resulted in one remaining candidate from the European theater of operations and one candidate from the Pacific Theatre Hospital Corpsman first class William R charrette recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in the Korean War made the final selection.

The selected unknown along with the unknown from the Korean War arrived in Washington on May 28, 1958.

They lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda until 1:00 p.m. on May 30th.

As the procession moved toward Arlington National Cemetery the two caissons each carrying one unknown traveled side-by-side when they reached the cemetery they shifted into a column led by the caisson burying the World War two Unknown Soldier.

As the caissons entered the cemetery twenty jet fighters and bombers passed overhead with one plane missing from each formation the casket of the World War Two Unknown Soldier was placed in front of President Eisenhower and the Korean War Unknown Soldier in front of Vice President Nixon the Marine Band played the national anthem and then a bugler sounded attention three times.

After a long moment of silence
President Eisenhower placed a Medal of Honor on each casket.

The unknowns of World War two and the Korean War were interred in the plaza beside their World War 1 comrade.

The tomb sarcophagus was placed above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War One on April 1931.

The sarcophagus is constructed of seven rectangular pieces of white marble together Wayne seventy-nine tons.

On the west panel of the sarcophagus facing the amphitheater are the words, he arrests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.

On the east panel facing the Capitol, three Greek figures have been sculpted on the left stands peace holding a dove in one hand.

On the right stands Valor bearing a broken sword in his hands in the center stands Victory holding hands with peace while extending an olive branch to Valor.

The north and south panels present a total of six inverted wreaths each representing a major campaign of

World War I west of the sarcophagus is the crypts of unknowns from World War Two Korea and Vietnam.

Those three graves are marked with white marble slabs that lie flush with the plaza since April 6, 1948,

The tomb of the unknown soldier has been guarded 24 hours a day 365 days a year
regardless of whether in blazing sun freezing snow or even in the face of hurricanes the sentinels continue their watch.

The Sentinels members of the 3rd Infantry or old guard are famous for the precision of their march and changing of the guard.

The Sentinel marches 21 steps across a black mat past the crypts of each unknown he then makes a crisp 90-degree turn to face east for 21 seconds.

He then makes another 90-degree turn facing north for 21 seconds a crisp shoulder arms movement places the rifle on the shoulder nearest the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the tomb and any threat.

After that moment the Sentinel paces 21 steps north turns and repeats the process.

Every hour during the winter and every half-hour during summer daylight hours the Sentinels conduct the changing of the guard ceremony.

As the new Sentinel approaches the relief commander slowly and with great precision conducts a white-glove inspection of the Sentinel’s weapon the two then marched to the center of the mat where the active Sentinel stops his walk and all three men salute the tomb.

The relief commander instructs the active Sentinel to pass on your orders.

The Sentinel replies post and orders remain as directed the relieving Sentinel responds orders acknowledged.

The relieving Sentinel then steps into position at the center of the black mat the relief commander and relieved Sentinel exit and the new Sentinel begins his march.

The unknown soldiers served to remind us that not all actions of valor are witnessed and recorded in the war.

We do not know the stories of these men but we know they gave their lives in a war they did not start to protect the freedom of people who would never know their names

They demonstrate the courage and heroism of every man and woman who goes into combat
in service of their nation.

They will face threats we can hardly imagine.
in an attempt to eliminate the dangers that opposed the men in the trench beside them.

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