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Last Updated: Oct 18th, 2012 - 18:14:24 

Veterans' Day

The Story of the Tomb of the Unknowns
By Sarah Lane
Oct 11, 2012, 13:30 PST

The Story of the Tomb of the Unknowns

© National Geographic Society -
It is a sad time when an unknown soldier has died in a war. That means that he or she has no family to claim them and secure a proper burial. After the Great War in 1921, the very first unknown soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. In England an unknown soldier was buried in Westminster Abbey. In France yet another unknown soldier was buried at the Arc de Triomphe. All burials took place on November 11th. These people have died for their country and each country obviously feels it’s important to recognize their sacrifice and make sure they rest in peace.

In the United States in 1958, two more unknown soldiers, one from World War II and one from the Korean War, were placed in Arlington next to the World War I soldier. In 1984 an unknown soldier from Vietnam was also placed there. It is now customary in the United States to place these soldiers next to their fallen comrades.

To honor these men and all Americans who gave their lives in each war, an Army honor guard, the 3rd U.S. Infantry keeps a day and night vigil. Every November 11th, at 11 A.M. there is a ceremony at the Memorial Amphitheater to honor them as well.

Source:       Department of Veterans Affairs, BBC, U.S. Army

Additional Learning Links

The United States Army
This is a view of the front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Arlington, Virginia. Read about this symbolic tomb, how it came to be, and browse pictures and text for more information.
Source:       Military District of Washington

Arlington Cemetery
Here’s a close-up look at the Tomb of the Unknowns from Arlington Cemetery. This popular tourist site is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. View pictures, or access links to the Armed Forces.
Source:       Arlington Cemetery, Virginia

Letters of Unknown
This letter, written during the time of the burial of the Unknown Soldier in November of 1921, gives insight to the occasion and that time period.
Source:       Department of Veterans’ Affairs

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