Unknown Soldier, Tomb of the
The Tomb of the Unknowns,. a memorial to the American dead of World Wars I and II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War, is in Arlington National Cemetery, just outside Washington, D.C.
On Nov. 11, 1921, an unidentified soldier who had been killed in France was buried there in a temporary crypt over which a marble slab was placed; the completed tomb, a sarcophagus of Colorado marble placed on the original base, was dedicated as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Nov. 11, 1932.
On Memorial Day, 1958, the bodies of two other unknown soldiers—one of whom had died in World War II, the other during the Korean War—were buried in the tomb, which was renamed the Tomb of the Unknowns. Remains of an unknown soldier from the Vietnam War were interred here in 1984, but later investigations revealed the soldier's identity, and they were removed. Deciding that scientific advances, including DNA tests (see DNA fingerprinting), had made Vietnam War or future unknowns unlikely, the Pentagon announced (1999) that no new remains would be placed in the memorial.
In Honored Glory
An American Soldier
Known But To God"
The Sentinels Creed
My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter.
And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection.
Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements,
I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect.
His bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.
The Tomb of the Unknowns symbolizes those of America who gave their lives in World War I, World War II, and the Korean War in defense of the Nation’s integrity, honor, and tranquility. Numerous ceremonies are performed annually at the Tomb to honor these soldiers and to show the nation’s respect for members of the United States Armed Forces.
The most notable of such ceremonies are wreath-laying ceremonies that take place on National holidays, such as Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day, where the President or his designee lays a wreath to mark the national observance of that day. Also, held in high esteem are wreath laying ceremonies that occur during state visits. At these ceremonies, the visiting head of state will pay formal respects to the sacrifice of America’s veterans in foreign wars by placing a wreath before the Tomb.
All ceremonies performed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, with the exception of Tomb Guard duty performed by the Army Honor Guard, are Joint Service functions led by the Military District of Washington. Therefore, the members of the Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard serve as active participants in all Joint Service ceremonies performed at the Tomb, including the highly respected wreath laying ceremonies. During these ceremonies, each service of the Armed Forces (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard) provide Ceremonial Honor Guard personnel to represent their respective service to the public and to the leaders of foreign countries. The Coast Guard Ceremonial Honor Guard strives to prepare its members for these ceremonies through hours of practice in weapons drill, uniform maintenance, and military bearing.