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Coming Up: 2 days only: Public allowed to approach Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for 100th Anniversary

Soldiers assigned to the 3rd Infantry Regiment, The Old Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery, Va. (National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Rivera Rebolledo)
October 15, 2021

For the first time in the 100 years since it was dedicated, the public will be allowed to approach the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery to pay their respects.

On Tuesday, Arlington National Cemetery announced, “The public will be able to walk on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza and lay flowers in front of the Tomb on Nov. 9 and 10, 2021.”

Visitors who wish to take part in the two-day public opening must still register to attend. Registration is available through Eventbrite.

The once-in-a-lifetime Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration Public Flower Ceremony comes just before the 100th anniversary of the monument’s dedication on November 11, 1921.

Arlington National Cemetery said visitors are encouraged to bring their own flowers, but complimentary roses, gerbera daisies and sunflowers will also be distributed.

The ceremony, starting at 8 a.m. on November 9, will begin with representatives from the Crow Nation placing flowers at the tomb and reciting the same prayer American-Indian Chief Plenty Coups gave 100 years earlier at the tomb’s dedication ceremony.

The ceremony will also include interpretive talks on the west steps of the Memorial Amphitheater and educational signage around the memorial.

The ceremony will end at 4 p.m. on November 10 with the original closing prayer offered by Army Chief of Chaplains, Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem 100 years ago.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was originally dedicated to the unidentified deceased service members of the first World War and continues to commemorate the unidentified deceased service members of all U.S. conflicts.

“This is a rare opportunity for the public to walk next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a privilege otherwise given only to the sentinels of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, ‘The Old Guard,'” Arlington National Cemetery said.

“As the stewards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it’s our honor to lead the centennial commemoration of this site,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery, said. “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.”