Monday, January 15, 2018

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 1921

On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American serviceman from World War I at Arlington National Cemetery. A highly decorated soldier, Sgt. Edward F. Younger, selected from four identical caskets. The World War I Unknown lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda prior to burial at Arlington National Cemetery.  On Armistice Day, November 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding presided over the interment ceremonies. 

Even in 1921 the intention had been to place a superstructure atop the Tomb, but it was not until 1926 that Congress authorized the necessary funds for completion of the Tomb.  Architect Lorimer Rich and sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones won a design competition for a tomb that would consist of seven pieces of marble in four levels (cap, die, base and sub-base.)  The “die” is the large central block with sculpting on all four sides. By September, 1931 all seven blocks of marble were at the Tomb site. By the end of December 1931, the assembly was completed.  Carvings on the central block under the direction of the sculptor Thomas Jones started thereafter. The Tomb was completed in April, 1932.

Installation of the sarcophagus for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb sarcophagus was dedicated on April 9, 1932.  The marble sarcophagus weighs seventy nine tons and is inscribed, “Here Lies in Honored Glory – An American Soldier – Known But to God”.

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