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St. Anthony Orthodox Group

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William Gonzalez
William Gonzalez

The Grave Of An Unknown Soldier

The grave of the Unknown Warrior contains the remains of one of the many thousands of British service personnel killed in the First World War (1914-18), but whose bodies could not be identified. Although created to honour and commemorate all those who died in British service, it also serves as a special symbol of those recorded as missing in action.

The Grave Of An Unknown Soldier

Just a few months later, in November 1916, Francois Simon, President of the Rennes Remembrance Society, proposed that the remains of an unidentified French soldier be interred in the Panthéon, the resting place of the great figures of French history. Because Railton initially kept the idea to himself, it was the French suggestion that entered circulation first.

Instead, Smith described how his team reburied them 50 miles away along the Albert-Bapaume road. It was their hope that these graves would be discovered by body search parties working in that area and would then be reburied, completely anonymously, elsewhere.

On May 25, 2000, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission exhumed the remains of a soldier during a ceremony that took place at the Canadian National Vimy Memorial. The remains were flown back to Canada in a Canadian Forces aircraft, and lay in state in the Parliament Buildings until the interment ceremony on May 28, 2000. Soil from each Canadian province and territory, as well as from France, was placed on the coffin.

November 2021 also marks the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. On November 11, 1921, following the end of World War I, the repatriated remains of an unknown member of the American Expeditionary Forces were interred at Arlington National Cemetery. Since then, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has provided a final resting place for Unknowns from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

In December 1920, New York Congressman and WWI veteran Hamilton Fish, Jr., proposed legislation "to bring home the body of an unknown American warrior who in himself represents no section, creed, or race in the late war and who typifies, moreover, the soul of America and the supreme sacrifice of her heroic dead."

This grave is not like the national Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is not in the midst of some large, well-maintained national cemetery but sits alone high in the hills of Vermont on wilderness land owned by a conservation foundation. Access is not gained by wide, smooth roads and walkways but, rather, by a narrow, dead-end dirt road off another narrow and rough dirt road which is, in turn, off a paved but nevertheless back road. The granite marker is next to the road but the grave itself is located some distance uphill from that road.[4] There is no impressive marble tomb but simply a pile of fieldstones, a DAR veteran marker, a wooden sign, and a small flag or two. It is maintained not by a round-the-clock crew but by the few souls who visit the site to pay their respects, some on a regular basis. It is not guarded by highly-trained volunteers from the military but by the trees of the forest. Standing there, in the midst of the Vermont wilderness, close by the faint trace of the Crown Point Road, and next to the grave of an unknown soldier who died walking that road, one cannot help but feel some sense of melancholy and history.

At the base of the Arch de Triomphe stands a torch. Every evening at 6:30 P.M. it is rekindled, and veterans lay wreaths decorated with red, white and blue near its flickering flame. It burns in the darkness to recall the sacrifice of an unknown French soldier who gave his life during World War I.

ARTICLE 1: The honors of the Pantheon will be rendered to the remains of one of the unknown soldiers who fell on the field of honor during the 1914-1918 war. The transfer of the remains will be solemnly made on 11 November 1920.

On November 10, 1920 at the Citadel of Verdun, Auguste Thien reviewed eight identical coffins, each bearing the remains of an unknown French soldier who had been killed during the Great War. Thien selected the sixth of the eight coffins, which was transported to Paris to rest in the chapel on the first floor of the Arc de Triomphe. There the coffin remained until January 28, 1921 at which time the Unknown French soldier was laid in his permanent place of honor at the base of the Arc de Triomphe.

Espoused in 1918 and supported by a fervent press campaign, the proposition was ultimately accepted. On 12 November 1919, the Chamber of Deputies decided that the anonymous remains of the French soldier killed in combat would be transferred to the Pantheon. Meanwhile, associations of former combatants challenged the choice of the site, preferring to affirm the exceptional character of his death, symbol of the hundreds of thousands of others killed in action. The author Binet-Valmer led a virulent campaign to entomb this Unknown Soldier under the Arc de Triomphe.

Since maintaining the mystery was crucial at that point, U.S. and French soldiers rearranged the caskets, so that it would be difficult even to tell which cemetery each of the bodies had come from. Originally, an officer was to pick the honoree, but after American officials found out that the French had designated an enlisted man to pick their own unknown soldier, they did the same, and left the selection to a Sgt. Edward F. Younger. As a band played a hymn, Younger walked around the caskets several times, and then randomly placed roses on one of the lids. The body inside was then transferred into a special, more elaborate casket, which was sealed for shipment to the U.S. The other three also-rans were then shipped by truck to a cemetery outside Paris, where they were reburied.

For many people, the Unknown Soldier is a familymember, a grandfather or a great-grandfather who is missing in action, a fellowsoldier, a loved one, and all those who perished in battles or from hunger,cold and wounds.

The modern Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was conceptualized at the end of World War I to continue the American tradition of honoring Soldiers. Soon after the November 11, 1918, armistice, the United States joined Great Britain and France in honoring their mass casualties that remained unfound after the war. American Expeditionary Forces collected the remains of four unidentified American Soldiers from French cemeteries. Sgt. Edward Younger, a well-decorated Soldier stationed in Chalon, France, at the time, chose one casket of the four to be sent back to the United States. The USS Olympia transported the casket across the Atlantic in fall of 1921. Previously, in March, 1921, the U.S. Congress approved the burial of the unidentified casualty on the east landing of the Memorial Amphitheater. Upon its initial building, the tomb was positioned at the head of the World War I Unknown grave. At 11:11 a.m. on November 11, 1921, chosen to honor Armistice Day, President Warren G. Harding, Vice President Calvin O. Coolidge, and Chief Justice William H. Taft accompanied the casket to Arlington National Cemetery. They presented the Medal of Honor and Distinguished Service Cross to the deceased before interment. Architects planned to create a tomb structure on top of the initial grave, but it was not completed until 1931.

Additions were next made to the Tomb after World War II and the Korean War. President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a veteran of both World Wars, felt strongly about honoring those who served their country. He first signed a bill renaming Armistice Day. The newly-named Veterans Day remained on the anniversary of the armistice of World War I, but honored all American military veterans. Eisenhower specifically wished to honor the unknown dead of World War II and the Korean War. In 1956, unidentified remains from the European and Pacific Theaters of World War II were selected and evaluated for identification. They joined the body of a Korean War Soldier on the USS Canberra. Among them, one Soldier from World War II and one from the Korean War laid in state in the U.S. Capitol before being interred in May 1958. The remaining casket was honored with a sea burial. Upon burial of the Unknowns at the monument, they were also bestowed with the Medal of Honor. The honoring of such remains symbolized all those military personnel who were not found or identified while serving, and whose acts of bravery and patriotism are unknown.

The Tomb was first protected by a civilian in 1925 to prevent tourists from walking over it. A military guard from the 3rd Cavalry, at the time posted at Fort Myer, Virginia, soon replaced them. In 1948, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, was reactivated and took over the post at the Tomb. As the oldest active regiment in the Regular Army, it was designated the official ceremonial unit of the U.S. Army. While guarding the graves, sentinels continuously repeat a ceremonial procedure. They march 21 steps southward down the black mat behind the Tomb, turn left, face east for 21 seconds, turn left, face north for 21 seconds, and take 21 steps down. The repetition of the number 21 represents the 21 gun salute, the highest military honor offered to a Soldier. This procedure repeats until the changing of the guard.

In November 1921, the remains of an American soldier who died during World War I in France were brought back home and laid to rest in a somber ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. The tomb, situated atop a hill overlooking the U.S. capital, is now the cemetery's most iconic memorial.

The tomb is now the resting place of three unidentified U.S. service members. More broadly, it represents all missing and unknown service members who made the ultimate sacrifice. Through its more than 100 years of existence, it has offered comfort for many who lost loved ones whose remains are missing or interred in foreign lands.

After WWI ended, Great Britain and France created memorials to honor unknown soldiers who lost their lives. In 1921, the U.S. Congress followed suit, acting to create the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a symbol of honor and respect for service members, even if their sacrifice meant they will lie forever unknown. 041b061a72


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