On this day in 1921, an unidentified soldier from World War I was interred in a Tomb—the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. President Warren Harding spoke at the ceremony. He opened with these words:
“We are met today to pay the impersonal tribute. The name of him whose body lies before us took flight with his imperishable soul. We know not whence he came, but only that his death marks him with the everlasting glory of an American dying for his country.”
Emblazoned on the back of the Tomb are the words:
Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.
Later, other crypts were added, nearby, for unknown soldiers from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. (The Vietnam soldier was later identified, so that crypt is vacant today.) Did you know that the Tomb has no official name? This is why you hear the names “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier” and “Tomb of the Unknowns” used interchangeably.
Today, the Tomb is a tribute to those American soldiers who gave their lives for their country in these wars, without having their remains identified. The Tomb is guarded 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, in all sorts of weather. The sentinels who guard the tomb are the .best soldiers from the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. These soldiers go through intense training and testing before they are qualified to be sentinels. The job is considered a great honor.
Happy Veterans Day! And a big thank you to all our military men and women for their service.
The Changing of the Guard (Arlington National Cemetery website)
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Arlington National Cemetery website)
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Society of the Honor Guard website)
Warren G. Harding, Address at the Burial of an Unknown American Soldier at Arlington Cemetery (Nov. 11, 1921)