Tomb of the Unknowns
The Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, although it has never been officially named) is a monument dedicated to American service members who have died without their remains being identified. It is located in Arlington National Cemetery in the United States. The World War I "Unknown" is a recipient of the Medal of Honor, the Victoria Cross, and several other foreign nations' highest service awards. The U.S. Unknowns who were interred afterwards are also recipients of the Medal of Honor, presented by the U.S. presidents who presided over their funerals.

Description
On November 11, 1920 the United Kingdom had buried one of its unknown warriors in Westminster Abbey. The same day, France buried the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe, and on March 4, 1921, the United States Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American serviceman from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater. The tomb's design was selected in a competition won by architect Lorimer Rich. The sculpture was by Thomas Hudson Jones. The white marble sarcophagus has a flat-faced form and is relieved at the corners and along the sides by neo-classical pilasters set into the surface. The stone was quarried in Marble, Colorado from the Yule Marble Quarry. The tomb was then fabricated in Vermont by craftsmen in Proctor, Vermont before it was shipped by train to Washington, DC. The finish carving was executed by Thomas Hudson Jones in Virginia. Sculpted into the east panel that faces Washington, D.C., are three Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. Inscribed on the western panel of the Tomb are the words:

The six wreaths carved into the north and south of the tomb represent six major battles of World War I: Ardennes, Belleau Wood, Château-Thierry, Meuse-Argonne, Oise-Aisne and Somme. The Tomb sarcophagus was placed at the head of the grave of the World War I Unknown. West of this grave are the crypts of Unknowns from World War II (south) and Korea (north). Between the two lies a crypt that once contained an Unknown from Vietnam (middle). His remains were positively identified in 1998 through DNA testing as First Lieutenant Michael Blassie, United States Air Force and were removed. Those three graves are marked with white marble slabs flush with the plaza.

The Unknown of World War I
On Memorial Day, 1921, four unknown servicemen were exhumed from four World War I American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat, highly decorated for valor and received the Distinguished Service Cross in "The Great War" selected the Unknown of World War I from four identical caskets at the city hall in Châlons-en-Champagne, France, on October 24, 1921. Younger selected the World War I Unknown by placing a spray of white roses on one of the caskets. He chose the third casket from the left. The chosen Unknown was transported to the United States aboard the USS Olympia. Those remaining were interred in the Meuse Argonne Cemetery, France. The World War I Unknown lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda from his arrival in the United States until Armistice Day, 1921. On November 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. During the ceremony, the World War I Unknown was awarded the Victoria Cross by Admiral of the Fleet Lord Beatty, on behalf of King George V of the United Kingdom. (The United Kingdom Victoria Cross was placed with the soldier. Earlier, on March 4, 1921, the British Unknown Warrior was conferred the U.S. Medal of Honor by General of the Armies John Pershing.) In 1928, the Unknown Soldier was presented the Silver Buffalo Award for distinguished service to America's youth by the Boy Scouts of America.

The Unknowns of World War II and Korea
On August 3, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to select and pay tribute to the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War. The selection ceremonies and the interment of these Unknowns took place in 1958. The World War II Unknown was selected from remains exhumed from cemeteries in Europe, Africa, Hawaii, and the Philippines. Two Unknowns from World War II, one from the European Theater and one from the Pacific Theater, were placed in identical caskets and taken aboard the USS Canberra, a guided-missile cruiser resting off the Virginia Capes. Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class William R. Charette, then the U.S. Navy's only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, selected the World War II Unknown. The remaining casket received a solemn burial at sea. Four unknown Americans who died in the Korean War were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. Army Master Sergeant Ned Lyle made the final selection. Both caskets arrived in Washington on May 28, 1958, where they lay in the Capitol Rotunda until the morning of May 30, when they were carried on caissons to Arlington National Cemetery. President Eisenhower awarded each the Medal of Honor, and the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War were interred in the plaza beside their World War I comrade.

The Unknown of Vietnam
The designation of the Vietnam Unknown has proven to be difficult. With improvements in DNA testing it is possible, though unlikely, that every unknown soldier killed in the Vietnam War will eventually be identified. The Vietnam Unknown service member was designated by Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Jay Kellogg, Jr., during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, May 17, 1984. The Vietnam Unknown was transported aboard USS Brewton to Alameda Naval Base, Calif. The remains were sent to Travis Air Force Base, California, May 24. The Vietnam Unknown arrived at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland, the next day. Many Vietnam veterans and President Ronald Reagan and Mrs. Nancy Reagan visited the Vietnam Unknown in the U.S. Capitol. An Army caisson carried the Vietnam Unknown from the Capitol to the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day, May 28, 1984. President Reagan presided over the funeral, and presented the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown. The President also acted as next of kin by accepting the interment flag at the end of the ceremony. The interment flags of all Unknowns at the Tomb of the Unknowns are on view in the Memorial Display Room. The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were exhumed May 14, 1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, Department of Defense scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. The identification was announced on June 30, 1998 and on July 10, Blassie's remains arrived home to his family in St. Louis, Missouri; he was reinterred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The crypt that once held the remains of the Vietnam Unknown has been replaced. The original inscription of "Vietnam" and the dates of the conflict has been changed to "Honoring and Keeping Faith with America's Missing Servicemen." as a reminder of the commitment of the Armed Forces to fullest possible accounting of missing service members.

Tomb Guards
It is considered one of the highest honors to serve as a ceremonial guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Fewer than 20% of all volunteers are accepted for training and of those only a fraction pass training to become full-fledged Tomb Guards. The sentinels do not wear rank insignia on their uniforms so that they do not outrank the Unknowns, whatever their rank may have been. Soldiers serving in other roles, like Relief Commander and Assistant Relief Commander, do wear insignia of their rank when changing the guard only. They have a separate uniform worn when they actually guard the Unknowns or are "Posted".

Weapons
Over the years there have been several different types of weapons used by the Tomb Guards. The changes in weapons reflect the changes in the Army, including M1903 Springfield rifle, M1 Garand and M14 rifles , M1911 .45 ACP and M-9 9mm Beretta pistols. Tomb guards currently use M14 rifles, which are unloaded, but kept ready for use at all times.

Walking the Mat
There is a meticulous ritual the guard follows when watching over the graves: The soldier walks 21 steps across the Tomb. This alludes to the 21-gun salute, which is the highest honor given to any military or foreign dignitary in America. His weapon is always on the shoulder opposite the Tomb (i.e., on the side of the gallery watching the ritual). On the 21st step, the soldier turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds. The soldier then turns to face the other way across the Tomb and changes his weapon to the outside shoulder. After 21 seconds, the first step is repeated. This is repeated until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard. The mat is usually replaced twice per year: before Memorial Day and before Veterans Day. This is required due to the wear on the rubber mat by the special shoes worn by Tomb Guards. The guards have metal plates built into the soles and inner parts of their shoes to allow for a more rugged sole and to give the signature click of the heel during maneuvers. The guards are issued sunglasses that are formed to their faces due to the bright reflection from the marble surrounding the Tomb and the Memorial Amphitheater. On the ground not covered by the mat, a wear pattern in the tile can be seen that corresponds to the precise steps taken during the changing of the guard. On the mat itself, footprints worn in by hours and hours of standing guard are also visible.

Changing of the Guard
During the day in summer months from April 1 to September 30, the guard is changed every half hour. During the winter months, from October 1 to March 31, the guard is changed every hour. After the cemetery closes to the public (7 p.m. to 8 a.m. April through September, and 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. October through March), the guard is changed every two hours until the cemetery reopens. The ceremony can be witnessed by the public whenever Arlington National Cemetery is open. The guard change is very symbolic, but also conducted in accordance with Army regulations. The relief commander or assistant relief commander, along with the oncoming guard, are both required for a guard change to take place. The guard being relieved will say to the oncoming guard, "Post and orders remain as directed." The oncoming guard's response is always, "Orders acknowledged."

Dedication
The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since July 2, 1937. Inclement weather does not cause the watch to cease. The Tomb Guards, a special platoon within the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) work on a team rotation of 24 hours on, 24 hours off, for five days, taking the following four days off. A guard takes an average of six hours to prepare his uniform " heavy wool, regardless of the time of year " for the next day's work. In addition to preparing the uniform, guards also complete physical training, Tomb Guard training, cut their hair before the next work day, and shave twice per day. Tomb Guards are required to memorize 16 pages of information about Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, including the locations of nearly 300 graves and who is buried in each one. A special Army decoration, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification Badge is authorized for wear after passing a detailed test of 100 questions (from a pool of more than 300), a uniform test with two gigs (errors) or fewer (measured to the 1/64"), and a test on the guard changing sequence. After serving honorably for a period of nine months, and having passed the sequence of tests, a Tomb Guard is permanently awarded the Badge. Since 1959, many men have completed training and been awarded this Badge, as well as three women. A small number of Tomb Guard Identification Badges have also been retroactively awarded to soldiers who served as Guards before 1959. Those numbers make the Badge the second rarest award currently issued in the United States Army; only the Army Astronaut Badge is rarer. The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is the only badge awarded by the United States Army that can be revoked after a soldier has left the military. The Regimental Commander of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment has the authority to revoke a Badge from any Guard (past or present) for any act that would bring discredit upon the Tomb of the Unknowns. The badge was designed in 1956 and first issued to members of the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns on February 7, 1958. The badge was first issued only as a temporary wear item, meaning the soldiers could only wear the badge during their tenure as members of the Honor Guard. Upon leaving the duty, the badge was returned and reissued to incoming soldiers. In 1963, a regulation was enacted that allowed the badge to be worn as a permanent part of the military uniform, even after the soldier's completion of duty at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Damage and repair to the Tomb Monument
Cracking and erosion are causing concerns for the long-term preservation of the Tomb Monument. A November 1963 report first recorded horizontal cracking of the monument's marble die block. Though this was the first time that the damage was documented, the report made it clear that the cracks had become visible some time before that date. In 1963-1964, there were two cracks"referred to as "primary" and "secondary""extending approximately 34 feet around the die block. By 1974, they had extended to 40 feet. They grew another 4.6 feet over the next 15 years. Inspection has determined that the cracks have increased horizontally since 1990. Analysis also indicates that the cracks are not surficial but extend partially through the block and will eventually extend all the way through. The 1990 report documented deterioration of the marble's surface. As much as 2.85 mm of the marble surface has been lost through weathering. The study projected that before 2010, the Tomb Monument will have been eroded enough to have a negative effect on the experience of the visitors and concludes the only solutions are to enclose or replace the monument. Several options have been considered to deal with the damage. Officials at Arlington National Cemetery determined that proper repair can return the Tomb Monument to an acceptable appearance. However, because the cracks will continue to lengthen and widen, continuous grouting, regrouting, touch-up, monitoring, and maintenance would be required. Therefore, a report commissioned by Arlington National Cemetery and published in June 2006 confirmed the Cemetery's conclusion that "replacement of the three pieces of the Tomb Monument is the preferred alternative". A final decision was scheduled to be made on September 30, 2007. The National Trust for Historic Preservation objects to the plan to replace the authentic Tomb Monument. The Trust expressed concern that Arlington National Cemetery seeks to replace the existing monument with marble from the original quarry, which experts agree is likely eventually to crack. The Trust has observed that the Cemetery’s own 1990 report recommended that the monument be repaired and that the Cemetery, in fact, commissioned Oehrlein Architects to repair the stone. In 2007, Mary Oehrlein informed Congressional staff members that: "The existing monument can easily be repaired, as was done 17 years ago, using conventional conservation methods to re-grout the cracks. Once repaired, the fault lines would be virtually invisible from the public viewing areas." On September 26, 2007, U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka announced that an amendment crafted together with Senator Jim Webb will be added to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 1585) that would require a report on the plans of the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to replace the monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The secretaries would be required to advise Congress on the current efforts to maintain and preserve the monument. Additionally, they would have to provide an assessment on the feasibility and advisability of repairing rather than replacing the Tomb Monument. Finally, if the secretaries choose replacement, they would have to report those plans and detail how they intend to dispose of the current monument. Once the report is provided, the secretaries are prevented from taking action to replace the monument for at least 180 days. The Akaka-Webb amendment was included in the bill, which is under debate, by unanimous consent of the Senate. An amendment to the Fiscal Year 2008 Defense Authorization Bill authorized a review of the monument's condition. The bill also authorized repair, but not replacement, of the monument. Final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act for 2008 (H.R. 4986) was signed by President Bush on January 28, 2008. In 2003, retired Glenwood Springs, Colorado car dealer John Haines donated a large slab of marble to the Arlington National Cemetery to replace the existing marble. Haines paid $31,000 for the marble slab. However, the marble has sat unused. "It's not doable. A citizen can't just give us any piece of marble and say, 'This is what we'll use to replace the tomb'", said Thurman Higginbotham, deputy superintendent of Arlington. Haines' marble was cut from the same Yule Quarry where the original gold-veined marble for the Tomb of the Unknowns was mined nearly 80 years ago. The tomb replacement piece was cut after a nearly five-year search for an unflawed piece that would look like the original. Arlington officials estimate the cost of replacing the tomb's marble at $2.2 million: $80,000 of that for seeking bids, $90,000 for buying and transporting the marble and the remainder for sculpting. Haines' donated marble includes free shipping that he arranged himself. In June 2009 Arlington National Cemetery and The Army Corps of Engineers announced that the monument was to be repaired, not replaced.

Changing of the guard sequences

Sequence 1

Sequence 2

Other unknown gravesite
In 2003, Arlington National Cemetery workers went to bury a newly deceased service member in grave 449 in section 68 of the cemetery, only to discover remains already buried there. Unable to locate the paperwork identifying the soldier and unwilling to disinter the body to identify it, the institution left the grave without a marker for six years. Arlington installed a headstone marked "Unknown" above the grave in 2009.

“ HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD ”

Media

2 photos

Building Activity

  • removed a media
    about 5 years ago via OpenBuildings.com