What Does the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington D.C. Represent?


Quick Answer

The Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, D.C., represents military personnel who died in defense of the United States, particularly those service personnel whose bodies remain unidentified. The tomb contains the remains of unknown soldiers from World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

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Full Answer

The Tomb of the Unknowns, also called the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, started as a burial place for an unknown soldier who died During World War I. The military removed his body from its burial place in France and took it home aboard the USS Olympia, burying the body in the Arlington National Cemetery on Nov. 11, 1921 with a white marble sarcophagus marking the grave. After Congress approved of the burial earlier in the year, Edward F. Younger, a highly decorated sergeant in the U.S. Army, selected the unknown soldier from a group of unknowns in France.

The marble sarcophagus depicts the Greek symbols of peace, victory and valor and features six wreaths and a phrase commending the soldier to God. After World War II and the Korean War, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a 1956 bill to bury unknown soldiers from each of those wars next to the original unknown soldier. An unknown fallen soldier from the Vietnam War joined the other unknowns in the tomb in 1984. However, after the later discovery of the soldier's identity through DNA testing, officials relocated the body.

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