On November 11, 1921, the body of an unknown American soldier was transported home from France aboard the USS Olympia and carried to a special place of rest in Arlington National Cemetery near Washington, D.C.
Since then, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been a place of respect and remembrance, with visitors from all over the world coming to stand in silent tribute. The Tomb is guarded twenty-four hours a day, every day, by the silent sentinels of the U.S. Army Old Guard. No others may approach the marble tomb.
In November 2021, as a special mark of respect marking the 100th Anniversary of that event, members of the public were welcomed to approach close to the Tomb and place their own personal floral tribute at its base. An historic occasion, certainly, and one I was not going to miss.
So along with long lines of people from all over the country and the world, I carried red roses to lay there, with my grandson Ryan and my sister Joan. We were joined by our friends from Belgium, whose little country had been overrun in both World War I and II, and who hold a special regard for their liberating American forces. They don’t forget.
It was a chilling, emotional moment to walk up to the monument with so many flowers banked along the path where only sentinels may walk. We went together, pausing before the Unknowns from World War II and Korea, stopping to stand facing the familiar white marble sarcophagus of the first Unknown.
Who were you, soldiers? Do you know we’re here?
My grandson told me he was particularly moved this trip, more than he had been on past visits. I understand. Such a tribute will not be repeated and we touched a moment in history.
Our humble thanks to all the United States military men and women who have given their lives in defense of the United States. And to the many who still keep watch for us, all part of that long, long line.
We must never forget.