One hundred years ago this week, The Tomb of the Unkown Soldier was dedicated to commemorate the final resting place of an unknown soldier from World War I, interred on Armistice Day, November 11, 1921. ​Since then, the tomb has served as a site of mourning and reflection in honor of unknown service members who died in all of America’s wars.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has served as the symbolic final resting place for unidentified or missing American soldiers, and specifically the final resting place since 1921 for three unknown U.S. service members who lost their lives in World War I.

For decades, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery has drawn crowds to honor unidentified service members, but for the first time in nearly a century, the public was briefly allowed to visit a sacred part and walk on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza and place flowers near the memorial. 

This marking of the tomb’s centennial anniversary, members of the public were given a rare chance to come close and lay flowers, for the first time since 1948.

This opportunity to visit this sacred area in the last 100 years was usually only granted to presidents and foreign dignitaries, but was open to the public this week in honor of the 100th anniversary of the memorial.

On Veterans Day, the public will be invited to observe a joint full honors procession that will closely resemble the World War I unknown soldier’s funeral procession 100 years ago. Unfortunately, there are no surviving soldiers from World War I, but there are still around 240,000 veterans still living from World War II.

There will also be a joint service flyover with aircraft from all branches of the military, along with an invite-only wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which President Biden is scheduled to attend.

Tomb guards or Sentinels, maintain their post 24 hours per day, seven days per week, throughout the year. A guard-changing ceremony takes place on the hours every hour during the winter and every half-hour during the summer.

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