September 30, 2021
Last night, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bipartisan resolution introduced by Senators Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to honor the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.
“It is a great privilege to introduce this resolution alongside Sen. Moran to commemorate the centennial of The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” said Sen. Inhofe, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “This tomb serves as resting place for the thousands of brave men and women who died fighting for their country and were never identified—and therefore could never be properly honored. After 100 years, we continue to honor all those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and remain unknown. We will never forget.”
“We will never know the names of the men who are laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, or what kind of lives they might have lived, but we do know what kind of men they were,” said Sen. Moran, ranking member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “In service and in death, they put aside their own comforts and ambitions to defend their country and the freedoms we enjoy. This resolution serves to honor and recognize our gratitude to all our Unknown service members who died in service to our country.”
“For 100 years, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has provided a final resting place to America’s bravest—those in uniform who made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of our freedoms,” said Sen. Tester, chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “We owe a debt of gratitude to these fallen heroes, and unanimous passage of our bipartisan resolution ensures their bravery and service is never forgotten.”
“Like the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier itself, this resolution is about honoring and remembering America’s fallen heroes and making sure those brave soldiers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice are never alone, never forgotten, and forever in our collective hearts,” said Sen. Reed, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers symbolizes our respect for the fallen and serves as a place for national mourning and reflection. Like the Sentinel Tomb Guards, whose every step and turn symbolizes devotion to duty and service to others, the U.S. Senate has a sacred duty to honor and care for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and all it represents.”
"A few months after the World War I Unknown was laid to rest, the commander of the Military District of Washington declined a request to post a sentry at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, saying that visitors to Washington ‘can reach the distantly located tomb only with great difficulty' and predicting that the Tomb ‘is not and never will be visited by the thousands of visitors as is done in England, France, and Italy,'” said Sen. Cotton, former member of the Old Guard. “Yet one hundred years later, more than four million people pass through the gates of Arlington National Cemetery each year, and most visit the Tomb to observe the Changing of the Guard. Americans venerate the Tomb and its Sentinels as a shrine to all the brave men and women who have served in our Armed Forces, and especially those who laid down their lives so we could live in freedom.”
In 1920, World War I veteran and New York Congressman Hamilton Fish Jr. introduced legislation for the interment of one unknown American soldier in a tomb to be built in Arlington National Cemetery. According to Rep. Fish, the purpose of the tomb was “to bring home the body of an unknown American warrior who in himself represents no section, creed, or race in the late war and who typifies, moreover, the soul of America and the supreme sacrifice of her heroic dead. There should be no distinction whatever either in the matter of rank, color or wealth. This man is the unknown American Soldier killed on the battlefields of France."
The remains of Unknown Soldiers from World War II and the Korean War would later be laid to rest alongside the WWI Unknown. The remains of a Vietnam service member were temporarily interred at the Tomb of the Unknown until his remains were identified years later. The fourth empty crypt is dedicated to all the missing U.S. service members from the Vietnam War.