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100th Anniversary of the Unknown Soldier

Unknown Soldier Tomb Anniversary

November 9, 2021

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is Arlington National Cemetery’s most iconic memorial, and on Tuesday, Nov. 9, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza will open to the public for the first time in nearly 100 years. The site serves as a place of reflection, where visitors and servicemen and women remember the sacrifices of all Unknown Soldiers fallen in battle at the grave of an Unknown soldier from World War I. This tomb was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1921. Two additional Unknowns from World War II and the Korean War were later added in 1958 and an empty crypt was rededicated in 1999 to honor missing service members from the Vietnam War.

On October 24, 1921, Sgt. Edward Younger selected this casket to serve as the American Unknown Soldier. This picture, taken in the city hall in Châlons-sur-Marne, France, where Sgt. Younger made the selection, shows a number of honors presented to the Unknown Soldier. American soldiers are on the left and French soldiers on the right. (Bibliothèque nationale de France/1921)

Interesting Facts

  • The Tomb is protected 24 hours a day by members of the 3rd Infantry Regiment (the Old Guard).
  • The President (or designee) has placed a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Veterans and Memorial Day each year.
  • Close to 90,000 paid respects while the Unknown Soldier lay in state in the U.S. Capitol Nov. 9-10, 1921.

Centennial Commemoration Open to the Public

In Washington, D.C.’s Arlington National Cemetery, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza will open to the public for a Flower Ceremony on Tuesday, Nov. 9 and Wednesday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The free event will allow visitors to personally pay their respects to the Unknown Soldiers by laying complimentary roses, gerbera daisies and sunflowers in front of the tomb. Visitors are also encouraged to bring their own flowers. Registration is required for those attending the ceremony here.

Also, taking place this week is the Veterans Day join full honors procession and joint service flyover at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11 from all branches of the military at Arlington National Cemetery. The public is invited to attend this event, as well as visit two historical exhibits at the ANC Welcome Center and the Memorial Amphitheater Display Room.

Learn more about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier educational opportunities, including a walking tour and lesson plans for Veterans Day and beyond here, while a Resource Guide on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration is available here.

More information on 100th Anniversary events can be found here.

October 14, 2021 By Stephanie, Posted In Exhibits, Online Tools, Programs, Teaching Activities & Lesson Plans

Iowa's Unknown SoldiersMonument in Keokuk, Iowa

Did you know that Keokuk, Iowa is home to a 2.75-acre national cemetery honoring veterans of all services? At the Keokuk National Cemetery, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997, 48 unknown soldiers are memorialized with a monument that was erected in 1912 by the Women's Corps of Keokuk. The monument is a large granite obelisk topped with the figure of a Union soldier standing at parade rest. The American War Dads and Auxiliaries of Iowa erected a bronze wreath dedicated to Unknown Soldiers. Date of dedication is unknown.

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Timothy Perkins

Timothy Perkins is of Cherokee and Natchez tribal descent. Perkins has served in logistics, equal opportunity employment and education services. He serves as commissioner on the Governor's Iowa Commission on Native American Affairs and the Iowa Mental Health and Disability Services Commission, as well as on the Greater Des Moines Partnership's Diversity and Inclusion Committee, among others, and has more than 30 years of service within the military.