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Statues and Memorials:
Tomb of the Unknowns
 
Tomb of the Unknowns Changing of the Guard Guarding the Tomb
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Located in Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., the Tomb of the Unknowns stands on top of a hill facing east toward Washington, DC Also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it was constructed to mark the grave of an unidentified American soldier from World War I.

The Tomb is made of white Yule marble and is rectangular in shape with columns set into the surface. In total, it weighs approximately 124 tons and is over 8 feet tall. The side that faces Washington, DC contains three Greek figures that are engraved into the marble and represent Peace, Victory, and Valor. The back on the Tomb has the following inscribed:

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

The Tomb was placed above the grave of the Unknown Soldier from World War I, and was opened for public visitation on April 9, 1932.

A Member of the Tomb GuardOn April 6, 1948, the Tomb Guard of the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment (also known as The Old Guard) began guarding the Tomb 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The method used to guard the Tomb is very specific. While on duty, the sentinel crosses a 63-foot rubber surfaced walkway in exactly 21 steps. He then faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, turns again, and pauses an additional 21 seconds before retracing his steps. The number 21 is symbolic of the highest salute according to dignitaries in military and state ceremonies. To prevent intruders, the sentinel always points his weapon away from the Tomb. Only under exceptional circumstances may the guard speak or break his silence. The guard will issue a warning if anyone attempts to enter the restricted area around the Tomb, but first will halt and bring his rifle to port arms.

Since the first interment (burial) of the Unknown Soldier from World War I, there have been three graves added for unknowns from World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam War. These unknowns were interred with their graves laid to the west of the World War I unknown. Due to the results of a DNA test in 1998, the Vietnam Unknown was identified as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie. His remains were removed (disinterred) from the grave site and it has been decided that the grave of the Vietnam Unknown will remain empty.

To learn more, check out
Arlington National Cemetery's Web site. Information on the Tomb Guard may be found at the Society of the Honor Guard's Web site.

 

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