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March/April 2021 -   -  

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: 100 Years

On March 4, 1921, his last day in office, President Woodrow Wilson signed into law a congressional resolution authoring the “bringing to the United States of the body of an unknown American” who served in Europe during World War I “for the burial of the remains with appropriate ceremonies.” On November 9, 1921, a ship carrying the body of a WWI American Unknown Soldier arrived in Washington from France. On November 11, Armistice Day, solemn ceremonies were held at Arlington National Cemetery at what would become known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Today the remains of two unknown service members (from World War II and the Korean War) are interred in crypts alongside the WWI Tomb. The Vietnam War crypt has been empty since 1998 when the remains in it were identified as those of USAF Lt. Michael Blassie, and were removed. Today, that crypt honors service members from all wars who remain missing in action.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 authorized a national commemoration of the centennial of the Tomb. Arlington National Cemetery and the nonprofit Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are spearheading that effort with educational programs, talks, and other events throughout the year.

The many and varied events began early in March and continue throughout the year, some virtually and some in person. That includes the display of a half-scale traveling replica of the Tomb on the Unknown Soldier, and a November 9 Joint Naval Symposium at the historic Navy Yard in Washington, D.C, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the World War I Unknown Soldier on these shores.

Click here for more info on Society of the Honor Guard-sponsored programs. To download Arlington National Cemetery’s Centennial Commemoration Resource Guide, click here.





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