This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington National Cemetery’s iconic memorial to deceased United States service members who remain unidentified. Likewise, the coming Memorial Day holiday will mark the 100th anniversary of the day in 1921 when the World War I Unknown, who rests in the Tomb, was exhumed from an American cemetery in France and brought back to the United States. Ornamented with figures representing peace, victory, and valor and the six major campaigns of World War I, its inscription reads, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”
Unknowns from later wars have since been added to the Tomb, which serves as a place of mourning and reflection on military service and is guarded by the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, sometimes called “The Old Guard,” around the clock, 365 days each year. Soldiers who volunteer to become Tomb Guards undergo a strict selection process, a series of demanding examinations, and intensive training. Each element of the guard regimen has meaning, up to and including the 21-gun salute, the highest symbolic military honor that can be bestowed.
From Presidents to public figures to school groups across the country, millions of people from around the world visit the Tomb each year. And the laying of a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a time-honored tradition for showing reverence for the sacrifices of American service members.
A century after the Unknown's burial, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier continues to be a powerful symbol of military service and sacrifice, mourning and memory. In this 100th year of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we at Wright Beamer salute with gratitude those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We are forever thankful.