Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (2024)

Walking the Mat - The construction of the final design of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, as it appears today, was completed in 1932.

Peace, Victory and Valor - Designed in the Beaux Arts-style with neoclassical elements, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier features three sculpted figures representing Peace, Victory and Valor on the east panel.

Tomb Wreaths - Sculpted wreaths adorn the north and south panels.

Here Rests in Honored Glory - The Tomb’s inscription reads: “Here Rests in Honored Glory an American Soldier Known but to God.”

Four Crypts - There are actually four crypts. Three unknown American service members lie in separate crypts on the east plaza of the Memorial Amphitheater — one in the sarcophagus and two in crypts in front of it. The center crypt in front of the sarcophagus is empty.

Sarcophagus Offering - The Unknown Soldier from World War I lies in the crypt covered by a white marble sarcophagus. The first unknown to be laid to rest at the Tomb, he was interred on Nov. 11, 1921.

Sarcophagus and Crypts - From left, the three crypts in front of the sarcophagus are for the Korean War Unknown, the Vietnam War Unknown (now empty) and the World War II Unknown.

Two Unknowns - The Korean War and World War II Unknowns were interred on May 30, 1958.

Vietnam Unknown - The Vietnam Unknown was interred on May 28, 1984, but was disinterred and identified as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie in 1998.

Honoring and Keeping Faith - The covering for the empty Vietnam War crypt bears the inscription: “Honoring and Keeping Faith With America’s Missing Servicemen 1958-1975.”

Tomb View - Today, millions of people from around the world visit the Tomb every year, whether to honor military service and sacrifice; mourn a loved one; watch a wreath laying ceremony or the changing of the guard; or otherwise appreciate the history and meaning of the site.

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (2024)


How many bodies are currently in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? ›

The Meaning

The Tomb began with one unknown service member from World War I, and today is the grave of three unidentified service members. Its meaning has evolved to represent the memory of all military members throughout American history.

Did they ever find out who is in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? ›

Photo: In a ceremony on May 14, 1998, the Department of Defense disinterred the Vietnam War Unknown, after reexamining evidence related to his possible identity. He was then positively identified as U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Michael J. Blassie.

Has the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ever been unguarded? ›

A military guard was first posted on March 25, 1926. The first 24-hour guard was posted on midnight, July 2, 1937. The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since that time. Inclement weather, terrorist attacks, and more have never caused the watch to cease.

How long is a guard shift at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? ›

Currently, the Tomb Guards work on a three Relief (team) rotation - 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, 24 hours off, 24 hours on, 96 hours off. However, over the years it has been different. The time off isn't exactly free time. It takes the average Sentinel 8 hours to prep their uniform for the next work day.

Has a woman ever guarded the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? ›

Army Pfc. Jessica Kwiatkowski made history on Sept. 18, 2023, when she became the first woman infantry soldier to earn the Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Identification Badge. Other women have earned the badge, but they have come from other career fields.

Why is the unknown soldier guarded? ›

In March 1926, soldiers from nearby Fort Myer were first assigned to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The guards, present only during daylight hours, discouraged visitors from climbing or stepping on the Tomb. In 1937, the guards became a 24/7 presence, standing watch over the Unknown Soldier at all times.

Has anyone tried to break into the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? ›

Has anyone ever tried to get past the Tomb guards, or attempted to deface the Tomb? Yes, that is the reason why we now guard the Tomb. Back in the early 1920's, we didn't have guards and the Tomb looked much different.

Has a guard of the tomb of the Unknown Soldier ever shot anyone? ›

A long, long time ago, the Sentinels carried loaded weapons. One night a sentinel challenged someone they didn't know and discharged their rifle. As I recall, it hit the leg of an officer's wife. Since that time, no Sentinel walking the path has carried a loaded rifle.

Can Tomb guards drink alcohol? ›

Other requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in any way.

Why do sentinels wet their gloves? ›

It is true that the sentinels' gloves are wet to improve the grip on the rifle. Although they do not execute an “about face” (180-degree turn) as the post indicates, it is also true that the sentinels always carry the rifle on the outside shoulder ( ).

Do Tomb guards get paid? ›

What is the salary of the guards at the 'Tomb of the Unknown'? The salary of guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is not officially quoted anywhere. However, based on different job circulars of the National Guard, it can be assumed that the salary is not less than $55,000 annually [1].

How hard is it to be on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? ›

The Tomb Guards, also called Sentinels, are chosen for this prestigious and highly selective post only after rigorous training and a demanding series of examinations (see below). The Old Guard has held this distinguished duty since 1948.

Are there actual remains in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier? ›

To date, 4 people have been buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, 1 each for World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. However, currently there are 3 unidentified fallen soldiers buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The body buried on behalf of soldiers in Vietnam was later exhumed.

Why is there no soldier from the Vietnam War buried in the Tomb of the Unknowns? ›

Many years later, in 1984, the final unknown soldier from the Vietnam War was laid to rest; however, because of advances in genetic science and DNA technology, the body was exhumed in 1998 and tested.

Is there a body in the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior? ›

Buried within Westminster Abbey is the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior, this grave contains the body of an unknown British soldier from the First World War. The body was brought from France to be buried in the Abbey on 11th November 1920, and this year marks the centenary of the interment.

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