Return to Tomb of the Unknowns (place)

The [Tomb] of the Unknowns, also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier(s), although it was never officially given either ([no name|or any]) name, is a monument to unknown casualties of war located in [United States of America|America]'s most famous [national cemetery|military burial ground], [Arlington National Cemetery].

The tomb was originally created in 1921 in memory of the unidentifiable war dead of [World War I], and the first unknown remains were [entomb|entombed] on [Armistice Day] of that same year. The original tomb, made of white "Yule" [marble], was relatively unassuming and low to the ground. In 1932 the tomb as we know it today made its [debut] - a white marble [sarcophagus] on a base, roughly 7 feet wide by 13 feet long by 7 feet high. The narrow eastern face bears an [anthropomorphic] [relief] of [Peace], [Victory], and [Valor], while the western face bears the following inscription:


In 1952 unknowns from [World War II] and the [Korean War] joined the original, and in 1984 [Vietnam War|Vietnam] got its representative. The crypts of these three unknowns are west of the sarcophagus, with markers set into the ground. In 1998 the Vietnam remains were exhumed and advances in [mitochondrial DNA] testing enabled scientists to identify them as those of [Air Force] [First Lieutenant] Michael Blassie. The Vietnam crypt is now empty and will not be refilled, and it is doubtful that another unknown will ever be interred.

In each case, the selection and [interment] of the unknowns was identical - several sets of unknown remains from the conflict were exhumed from military graveyards and placed in identical caskets, and a distinguished [United States Military Ranks|serviceman] was directed to select one at random. The remains were then taken to lay in state in the [Capitol] [Rotunda] for a brief period and then transported to [Arlington National Cemetery|Arlington], where they were [Posthumous|posthumously] awarded the [Congressional Medal of Honor|Medal of Honor] and then [inter|interred] by the [President of The United States of America].

As the remains (until recently), represented no particular soldier, they stood to represent the valor and sacrifice of soldiers in general, and the memorial is considered by many as second only to the [Vietnam Veterans Memorial] in terms of beauty and emotional impact. The tomb is under constant guard by the ceremonial 3rd United States Infantry Regiment, and their [The Changing Of The Guard|Changing Of The Guard ceremony] is America's closest parallel to that of [Buckingham Palace]. The tomb is open to the public, and is a major [tourist attraction].