Nov
11

Today in Smithsonian History: November 11, 1921

The United States National Museum, now known as the National Museum of Natural History, building viewed across the Mall from one of the Smithsonian Institution Building's towers on May 3, 1917.

The United States National Museum, now known as the National Museum of Natural History, building viewed across the Mall from one of the Smithsonian Institution Building’s towers on May 3, 1917.

November 11, 1921 All the exhibition halls and offices of the U.S. National Museum are closed on November 11, 1921, in honor of the burial of America’s unknown soldier at Arlington Cemetery.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery stands atop a hill overlooking Washington, D.C. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater. Inscribed on the  white marble sarcophagus are the words:

Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God

The Tomb sarcophagus was placed above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War I. West of the World War I Unknown are the crypts of unknowns from World War II, Korea and Vietnam. Those three graves are marked with white marble slabs flush with the plaza.

The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day by soldiers from the United States Army 3rd Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard.” It is considered one of the highest honors to serve as a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Fewer than 20 percent of all volunteers are accepted for training and of those only a fraction pass training to become full-fledged Tomb Guards. A soldiers “walking the mat” does not wear rank insignia, so as not to outrank the Unknowns, whatever their ranks may have been.

Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetary

Photo courtesy of Arlington National Cemetary

Courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Archives and Arlington National Cemetary


Posted: 11 November 2017
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