The Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a very important monument to America and its citizens. It is watched over by specially trained guards who give it the highest honors. Congress approved the idea of the tomb on March 4, 1921. The Tomb holds bodies from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Many people are moved to tears at the sight of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, especially at the changing of the guards and the laying of the wreath.
Firstly, it is guarded by specially trained guards who give it the highest honors. Less than 20 percent of those who volunteer are chosen to guard the tomb. They always take 21 steps, then count to 21, turn, and face the tomb for 21 seconds. This is as if giving the 21 gun salute, which is the highest honor a soldier can receive. The guards don’t wear rank insignia so they don’t outrank the unknown soldiers. In spring and summer the guard is changed every half hour, and in winter and fall the guard is changed every hour. When there was an oncoming hurricane, the guards refused to leave their post. It takes them 6 hours every day to take care of their uniforms and dress properly.

Secondly, Congress approved of the tomb on March 4, 1921. American soldiers first learned about the English having a tomb for an unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey. That same day the French buried an unknown soldier in the Arc de Triomphe. After Congress approved of the idea, marble was sent by train from the Yule Marble Quarry in Marble, Colorado. On the east side facing Washington D.C are Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. On the west side these words were engraved: “HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD.” On the north and south sides are six wreaths representing the six major battles of World War I, the war that had most recently ended.

Thirdly, the Tomb holds bodies from World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. For the unknown from WWI, four bodies were chosen from a French cemetery and U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger chose one of them to be transferred to the U.S. on the USS Olympia. When he arrived, he received the Victoria Cross. On August 3, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to select and pay tribute to the Unknowns of World War II and the Korean War. On May 14, 1998 scientists looked over Vietnam War’s unknown body and from mitochondrial DNA testing, they figured out he was Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. His body was removed and sent to his family. The crypt that once held him now says “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America's Missing Servicemen." There will be no more modern unknown soldiers because from the Vietnam War forward all soldiers can now be identified by their DNA.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a very important monument to America and its citizens. It has been guarded nonstop since July 2, 1937. I want to place the wreath on this Monument because many of my relatives have fought for freedom alongside these honored soldiers. I learned of my relatives participation in these wars because of my research on Ancestry.com, talking to my grandmother (who is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution), and reading notes which my great grandfather left. Elijah Cady, my 5th great grandfather, was in the Revolutionary War. My 2nd great grandfather, William Hamilton Cady, was in the Spanish American War where he caught malaria. He survived, but it left him a weaker man the rest of his life. Another relative, William Finch Cady, was a doctor in the Civil War. On my father’s side, Robert Duren was in WWII on the Bataan Death March and was killed on a ship where he was a prisoner of war, and he has no final resting place. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents a tribute these men who like my great uncle had no burial place to commemorate their bravery and service to their country. I would feel a personal honor to be able to lay the wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and show my respect for their service to our country.





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Offthebeatenpath said...
Oct. 13, 2011 at 5:46 pm
Beautifully expressed.
 
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