What is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, also referred to as the Tomb of the Unknowns is a monument erected as a dedication to US service members who lost their lives and could not be identified by their remains. Located in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, the monument overlooks Washington DC from atop a hill.
The monument is constructed of a white marble sarcophagus and has three Greek statues sculpted into it that each represent a different virtue: peace, victory, and valor. Also, there are six wreaths that represent the six major campaigns of World War I and an inscription that states: “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God” as Congress allowed an unidentified soldier to be buried there in the early 1920’s.
Later on, three other soldiers were also buried in the same tomb, from WWII, The Vietnam War, and the Korean War. However, the Unknown of Vietnam was only a part of the memorial for a short time as DNA testing advances allowed scientists to identify the remains as belonging to Michael Joseph Blassie during an exhumation in 1988. Regardless, the Vietnam Unknown Soldier monument remains empty and the inscription now reads: “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”
Another thing to note about this memorial is that it is guarded 24/7 by Tomb Guards who protect the monument rain or shine. These guards serve the section of the infantry known as “The Old Guard,” which is the oldest unit in the army and has been serving the United States since the 1700’s. It is an incredible honor to become a Tomb Guard as they work 24 hour shifts and live beneath the monument in the guards quarters when they are not working. There is also an important ceremony that happens called the Changing of the Guard, during which the acting Tomb Guard marches forward 21 steps and alternates facing north and east. The guard then places his weapon on his shoulder to signify the protection of the monument from threat.
If you are interested in witnessing the beauty of this incredible dedication to American loyalty and servitude, join us on March 27-30th as we visit Washington DC, and all that it has to offer. To learn more about this trip, click here.