In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, members of the public will be able to pay respects closer than ever before.
On Nov. 9 and 10, visitors will be allowed to lay flowers in front of the tomb and to walk on its plaza, an area usually reserved for only the Sentinels of the 3rd Infantry Regiment, otherwise known as “The Old Guard.”
“When we stand at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we stand not only with those laid to rest in the tomb, but with all the servicemembers who have fought before us,” said Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), MOAA president and CEO. “If people take this unique chance to visit the tomb up close, they will undoubtedly be inspired by the strength of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.”
Complimentary roses, gerbera daisies, and sunflowers will be provided between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Nov. 9 and 10, though visitors may bring their own flowers. While there is no charge to take advantage of this rare opportunity, visitors will need to register online. The event will take place rain or shine, and complimentary trams will run to the Memorial Amphitheater for those attending the ceremony.
A representative of the Crow Nation will begin the flower ceremony at 8 a.m. on Nov. 9 by reciting a prayer that was given 100 years ago by American Indian Chief Plenty Coups.
In addition to being able to place flowers and pay respects by the Tomb, guests will have the chance to talk to historians on-site and participate in interpretive discussions. Before heading to Arlington National Cemetery, it is suggested that people review security requirements as well as COVID-19 guidance.
“As the stewards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it’s our honor to lead the centennial commemoration of this site,” said Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery. “The Tomb has served as the heart of Arlington National Cemetery. It is a people’s memorial that inspires reflection on service, valor, sacrifice and mourning. As a sacred memorial site and the grave of three unknown American service members, the Tomb connects visitors with the legacy of the U.S. armed forces throughout the nation’s history.”
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