Skip to main content

tv   Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial  CSPAN  November 22, 2021 1:59pm-2:57pm EST

1:59 pm
central pennsylvania. it was to find the quiet and solitude, in my mind, to help him cope with a lot of the things that he saw and did. thank you for your questions, and thank you all for coming out today. [ applause ] ♪♪ you can be a part of the national conversation by participating in c-span's student cam video competition. your opinion matters. so, if you're a middle or a high school student, we're asking you to create a five to six-minute documentary that answers the question, how does the federal government impact your life? your documentary must show supporting and opposing points of view on a federal policy or program that affects you or your community. c student cam competition awards $100,000 in total cash prizes, and you have a shot at winning the grand prize of $5,000.
2:00 pm
entries must be received before january 20th, 2022. for competition rules, or just how to get started, visit our website at studentcam.org. today we're going to talk about the tomb of the unknown soldier. and this is the hundredth anniversary of the tomb of the unknown soldier, the unknown soldier did lay in state in the capitol, and sam is going to talk to you about that. and let me give you a little perspective on sam. you see him as our organizer of this event. but let me give you a little bit of background about him. sam has been a washingtonian since childhood. he earned his masters in public policy and a bachelor of arts in public policy from the college of william and mary. joined the society in june of
2:01 pm
2016 and has held various positions serving as a tour guide, a speaker, communications professional, working with the retail, working with program management, and working with the basic administration of the organization. before he came to the historical society, he worked for a trade association as a freelance fly-in scheduler, a title ad instructor and a commercial property manager. so sam comes to us with a fascinating background and a real passion for history. and so it is my privilege to welcome you and to welcome our speaker today samuel holliday. >> thank you so much for that kind and warm introduction. it's truly a joy to work for the historical society and advance our mission to inspire and form patriotism. so, as jane said, i'm samuel
2:02 pm
holliday. and as we get into today's discussion, i want to set the stage a little bit by first explaining why it is we are giving this talk. of course, it's an important anniversary, it's the hundredth anniversary of both the creation of the tomb of the unknown soldier and the first internment with the world war i unknown. and there is a significant capitol history but there's also a little bit of personal society history that goes into how we got involved in this commemoration, the tomb's centennial. so as i start my program, many of you will recognize the person in the middle, the award-winning historian. this was in 2016 when we gave him the society's honest honor. they're some satisfy the finest people to have walked the earth. on the left you'll see dorothy cosby who is a great friend of
2:03 pm
the society because, in part, her father is a late congressman and he founded our organization 59 years ago this year. and on the right you'll see her late husband who served for an extended period as treasurer of this organization, but more relatedly for today's conversation, colonel cosby served as part of the honor guard for the tomb of the unknown soldier. and if you look closely, i appreciate -- i know it's difficult depending on what device you're wearing. but that is the tomb guard identification badge and part of his identity that was important to him and he helped found an organization focused on the tomb of the unknown soldier and the sentinel to guard it. the society of the honor guard the tomb of the unknown soldier. we'll talk more about them in a little bit. but because we have this sort of society family connection, this is particularly meaningful to talk about this history and to talk about the capitol's history
2:04 pm
of the tomb of the unknown soldier. so, let me go ahead -- there we go. i want to take a step back and talk about how the capitol plays a role in our understanding of public life, public mourning and public memory. from some of the earliest designs for the capitol building there was this room you see pictured here, the crypt of the capitol designed to house the tomb for george washington. of course, many of you who have taken a capitol tour or listened to some of our other webinars know it is an empty tomb for george washington. but from its earliest conception, this was a place of somber reflection on the lessons we can learn from george washington. and i think it's an important way to understand the capitol, as jane mentioned, as our temple of democracy that, not only is this a place where we set the laws for ourself, where we govern ourselves as a people, but it's also a place where we celebrate the best we have to offer and we mourn those we've lost. congressional gold medals and laying in state ceremonies both take place in the capitol
2:05 pm
rotunda, just one floor above the room pictured here in this image. so, as we push forward, it's important to think that this is where our country comes together to, again, celebrate and to mourn those great figures we've lost. one of the ways, as i've just mentioned, that we have paid tribute to leading figures and important people in our nation's history is through the lying in state ceremony. it's a somber occasion as part of an official state funeral in which the casket of the deceased is placed upon a support structure, which we'll talk a little bit more later in today's program. and the public is allowed to come in and pay their respects. they drape the rotunda in black bunting. it's a very powerful and somber occasion. if you are in washington for such an occasion, of course we hope they are few and far removed, but it is typically open to the public. it's a really powerful way to
2:06 pm
participate in civics by paying tribute at a state funeral. henry clay was the first person to lay in state in 1852. this is a very rare honor. only 35 people in our nation's history have lain in state total through today. and only ten had laid in state, lain in state before the world war i unknown. those were henry clay in 1852, abraham lincoln in 1865, thaddeus stephens in 1865, charl sumner in 1874. vice president henry wilson in 1875. president james garfield, this picture is from his laying in state ceremony in 1881. senator john logan in 1886, president william mckinley in 1901, peter lafonte, the designer for the city of washington, laid in state when he was reinbettered at arlington
2:07 pm
national cemetery on their way to the reinternment, they felt it was that important as they were paying tribute to a figure who had for a brief time fallen into obscurity and was buried in a pauper's grave. relevant to world war i, admiral of the navy george dewey was laid in state in 1917 before we get to the world war i unknown in 1921. congress has also played a role in supporting the memory and preservation and the tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, the last full measure of devotion in service of our country in. 1862 congress passed the omnibus act, which included a provision. here you can see from the national archives an image of it and a transcription, and it provided the president with the authority to acquire land and
2:08 pm
create national cemeteries for those who gave that last full measure of devotion for those who died in service their country. and ever since the congress has been involved in preserving the memory and supporting those families who have lost loved ones in wars. now, as we push forward, we start to talk about different conflicts after the civil war. i should mention before we get into that, there are actually a significant number of unknowns buried at arlington from the civil war. more than -- i believe more than 2,000 remains in a large memorial. we can get into that a little bit later. but you get to the spanish-american war that was fought in farther-flung locations than the civil war or the mexican-american war, the revolutionary war, the war of 1812. and you have a policy enacted of repatriation bringing back the remains of deceased
2:09 pm
servicemembers who died fighting, bringing them back to the continental united states to be buried closer to home. that conflict did not last quite as long, and it had significantly fewer casualties than the first world war, which plays into some of the decisionmaking about how to deal with repatriation and how the importance, i should say, of a tomb of the unknown soldier. before we get to that, though, i will mention that in 1913, congress approved and authorized spending for the government to create a new memorial amphitheater at arlington national cemetery. at this point the cemetery had been in use since the civil war, and they recognized the need for a larger and more somber space to accommodate the visitors who were there to pay tribute to their deceased loved ones. and, so, they appropriated the funds, they authorized the spending to create this new
2:10 pm
amphitheater and really made this investment in arlington national cemetery as the nation's premier cemetery, the nation's premier place to pay this special tribute. now, after first world war, you have a congressman from new york, representative hamilton fish iii. the fish family was very prominent in new york politics going back to the colonial era. his father was a secretary of state. his grandfather was an agitant general of new york and had fought in the revolution. he fought in the first world war, he was highly decorated, won the silver star for valor, retired out as a major from the u.s. army. he is pictured in the left with his uniform with one of the lieutenant generals commanded him during the war. and then he won election as a republican from new york to congress and served there for 25
2:11 pm
years. and hamilton fish really was the driving force for the creation of a tomb of the unknown soldier. he was its major advocate on capitol hill. this concept of a tomb for the unknown soldier was one that was put to good use and was demonstrated by france and united kingdom after the first world war. this was a tremendously costly war. this was a devastating war in terms of casualties, in terms of loved ones lost. and there were significant concerns at the conclusion of the war that retrieval of remains from some of these battlefields could be fraught with peril. there were potentially unexploded things, some satisfy the chemical weapons used during the first world war posed significant risks. so france and the united kingdom actually had to restrict and chose to restrict how many of
2:12 pm
their soldiers lost during the war could be brought back to cemeteries at home. so those countries both opted to pursue the creation of a tomb of the unknown soldier in their respective capitol. westminster abbey in london and at the arc de triomphe in france. and it really served as both a civics tribute and a very personal tribute for those who went to way their respects. hamilton fish had seen the success, the importance of this sort of a memorial. and there were a great number of unknowns that resulted from the first world war.
2:13 pm
he offered the legislation to create the tomb of the unknown soldier and place it at arlington national cemetery just across the river from our capitol city as a monument for the nation to mourn those lost, whether they came home or not. so, as i mentioned, there were a great number of unknown soldiers who had perished by the end of the first world war. and the selection process was actually really rather fascinating. i should mention that they gathered from several different major battlefields, different unknown soldiers who had fallen in battle, and they brought them to a small town in the champagne region of france where one of the highest decorated enlisted soldiers, enlisted veterans of the war made the final selection of the anonymous flag-draped coffin to be the unknown soldier to rest at arlington in eternal
2:14 pm
memory and glory as a symbol, as a tangible representation of all of those other unknowns and all of those others who were intered across an ocean from their families and loved ones. this image you see here is a soldier being brought ashore. and he's brought to shore from the "uss olympia" which had seen significant battle and performed valiantly during the course of the first world war. and the voyage back from france was hardly a smooth passage. as they sailed through a tempest, there are reports that the swells and the rain and the winds were so strong that the marines guarding the casket, which had been lashed to the deck of of the olympia were given the option to retreat below deck, and they refused so
2:15 pm
they could maintain their watch and pay this high honor, this high tribute to an unknown soldier representative of so many others who had given that last full measure of devotion. it reached the navy yard. and then it proceeded up to the capitol building as we've been discussing, the lying in state ceremony is a somber and high honor to be paid to someone. this image was from the land and state of the unknown from world war i. and what you can see here, we mentioned it briefly, the catafalque. every lying in state ceremony since abraham lincoln's has used the catafalque which remains in possession of the architect of the capitol. and they preserve it and they display it when the visitors
2:16 pm
center reopens, it's on display in their exhibition hall, in which case they remove it and make sure it's ready for further service to our country in supporting those we are paying tribute to. so they have the laying in state ceremony. and then they proceed for the internment on november 11th, 1921. they draw the casket caisson on horseback and they take it over. they have the state funeral ceremony in that newly constructed amphitheater which had been recently completed. at this point it is presided over by then president warren g. harding, and the internment is made on just the other side of the amphitheater here in this newly created tomb of the unknown soldier. you can see this is just a small snapshot of the thousands upon thousands of americans who came to pay tribute.
2:17 pm
again, this one person representing so many more and the channel through which they could participate in public mourning and public memory. now, congress' involvement in the tomb of the unknown soldier and how we pay tribute to those we've lost did not end with the first world war and the internment of the first unknown. in 1926, the congress appropriated the funds and authorized the spending to increase and improve the tomb of the unknown soldier to enhance the tomb of the unknown soldier by adding this large monument on top. if you look, i'll jump back briefly. this initial tomb of the unknown soldier was actually at grade. it was at the same level as the plaza that surrounded it. they added this sarcophagus.
2:18 pm
you have this structure added on top of the existing tomb to create that much more prominent of a space and that much more somber of a space to remind people that this is a place of great solemnity. i should mention as well, of course, we all know there were conflicts after the first world war, hence the name the first world war. and after the conclusion of the second world war, the congress passed what is now public law 79-429, authorizing the internment of a world war ii unknown soldier at the tomb of the unknowns. and they were in the process of preparing the selection and preparing the transport back to the united states, so repatriation for internment when the korean war broke out. and they suspended that
2:19 pm
operation. after the korean war concluded, congress passed a new law, a public law 84-975 which authorized the selection and internment of the korean war unknown soldier at arlington national cemetery. so, they continued to view this as a way for the nation to pay tribute, again, to all of those laws, whether they were repatriated or not, and a place where the country could come together. here is the lying in state ceremony for both the world war ii and korean war unknown soldiers in the capitol building. and you'll note that they're side by side in the rotunda. and as we briefly mentioned, every lying in state ceremony has used the lincoln catafalque. but what the congress and the
2:20 pm
capitol institutions decided to do to facilitate this dual ceremony, this joint ceremony of high honor was to create a replica second catafalque that could be used when multiple caskets are needed. side by side you had the first one, the second one. and during the course of the laying in state they rotated the caskets of the world war i and world war ii unknowns. they were then carried with grace, honor and somber spirit to arlington national cemetery for internment in front of farther along plaza from the main sarcophagus that we were showing you a moment ago. now, after the conclusion of the vietnam war, congress passed in
2:21 pm
1973 public law 93-43 which authorized the selection of an internment of an unknown soldier from the vietnam war. there was actually at this point some skepticism that an unknown, that there would be unknowns as we had advanced identifying technology, dog tags had been made more reliable and were more reliably used to identify remains, whether there would be an unknown. but by the 1980s, an unknown soldier had been identified or had, i should say, had been selected, that comes up later though in just a moment. and a brief note, hamilton fish iv actually introduced a resolution in congress. he was then himself a republican congressman from new york. earlier in that same congress,
2:22 pm
he introduced a resolution to select and inter an unknown soldier from the vietnam war at the tomb of the unknown soldier. but his resolution got folded into the larger package, which was passed later in that same congress. now, i mentioned a little bit -- i got a little bit of myself there -- that the unknown soldier from vietnam was actually successfully identified. and, so, there was some thought as people were working through the challenges following vietnam war, the family of air force first lieutenant michael blasey came to believe that he might have been the vietnam war unknown. and so the department of defense agreed to exhume the vietnam war unknown soldier and to conduct dna testing which confirmed that in fact the vietnam war unknown
2:23 pm
was lieutenant michael blasey. at the request of his family his remains were moved closer to home to the jefferson barracks national cemetery in st. louis, missouri. that happened in 1998. and then in 1999 on september 17th, which was both constitution day, and more importantly for this purpose, prisoner of war, missing in action recognition day, the department of defense redesignated the vietnam war tomb at the tomb of the unknown soldier for all those missing servicemember who's never made it home. so it stands in a similar way to the crypt for george washington as a permanent tribute to those lost, even though there's no inter directly for that. so, as we get to a point here, i want to mention that we are part of a bigger quilt of
2:24 pm
recognitions and commemorations, a bigger coalition of commemorations, i should say, of this important centennial. the organizing entity is the society of the honor guard for the tomb of the unknown soldier founded, in part, by the late great cosby. and they have done some fantastic work organizing commemorations. they've done some really wonderful research. their website has a really great concise and important history of the tomb and the tomb guard. a lot of frequently asked questions, and we can work on some of those as people start to submit questions. the president of that organization is a wonderful fellow and has been very helpful as we've participated and tried to help as they organize this commemoration. justin ortman helped with some of the research, as did one of our history interns ethan. this concludes my brief overview
2:25 pm
of the history of the tomb of the unknown soldier. a legislative history and congressional history. and now i would welcome any questions you may have. and jane will start posing those. >> here we go. sam, as our folks want to do, one of our listeners found the quote. the quote states on the tomb, here rests in honored glory an american soldier known but to god. so thank you james livingston, for that. now we have a question. do the unknown soldier remains from the various wars, do they lie together, or are they replaced when there's one from a new war? what happens -- >> sure, that's an excellent question, and it makes me realize i should've included a diagram or an aerial view to help illustrate this.
2:26 pm
i might be able to point it out in one of the photos i included in the presentation. but they are not on top of -- they're not all in the same spot. there's the world war i unknown, and then, to the east, i'll make sure i got my geography right, beside the tomb for the world war i unknown, below ground level for that plaza are the world war ii and korean war unknowns and the empty vault for the vietnam unknown. so they are separated, but they're in the same vicinity as the sarcophagus that everyone's familiar with. so they are all there, and they are all guarded by the sentinels. the mat is between the below ground vault for the world war ii and korean war unknowns and the gallery, the public gallery
2:27 pm
for where people can pay their respects when they visit the arlington national cemetery. >> here's an interesting question. i love our listeners. they have such creative questions. >> absolutely. >> do you have any information about why catafalque was used instead of bier? >> sure. >> because catafalque has sort of religious overtones while bier is more secular. >> absolutely. that is one, something i've learned over my years working in a scholarship with the u.s. capital historical society. these are incredible questions from our audience and i have to say that i don't know the answer to that but it's a fascinating one. i imagine -- well, i'll be careful here because we're a
2:28 pm
historical society, we want to make sure we give you as accurate information as possible. i imagine the term was selected during lincoln's laying in state and lincoln's state funeral processes commemoration and that because everyone has used his since, the term that was selected stuck even when they created a second one, especially when they created a second one, exact replica. now, again, i don't know the reason that it was, that that term was selected at the time. but that is an excellent question. you got to love our audience. >> i tell you, i love our audience. and give us time, we're going to hear somebody type in the answer. but here's a question. do you know the selection process for choosing an unknown soldier? how do they determine that the soldier is totally unknown?
2:29 pm
they check the dog tags, they interview family. how did that come to be? >> sure. that is a great question, and i'm glad i printed out some of my research notes here because i can give you guys an exact answer in just a moment. but i can tell you the initial -- to the initial part of the question and whether someone was truly unknown had to just sort of be assumed that if they couldn't identify the remains of the fallen soldier on the battlefield, they were often times buried in large not quite mass graves, but they were buried as unknown soldiers. and there were many of them. the number i mentioned earlier, you know, just at arlington, there are over 2,000 unknowns from the civil war.
2:30 pm
and by the time you get to the first world war, there were -- again, i think the number hamilton fish mentioned was more than 1,700 deceased from american service members fighting if the first world war. so in terms of whether they were unidentified or unknown, you know, was really, it was pretty much whether they could determine when they fell in battle who they were. and that's where the technology of our time has really or the evolution of technology for identification has really improved the way we can pay tribute more specifically, we can identify people. like i said, vietnam unknown was identified through dna technology, which at this point
2:31 pm
has meant most -- it's enabled us to at least identify those who give their last full measure of devotion. then in terms of the actual selection, i can tell you that before the world war i unknowns, they gathered unknown military personnel from different military cemeteries that had been set up quickly in france, and they brought them to -- and i apologize to any french speaking listeners here -- in the champagne region of france where they prepared the city hall of the town for the selection. on october 24th, 1921, major robert p.harbel of the quarter master corps aided by french and american soldiers rearranged the caskets so that each rested on the shipping case other than in
2:32 pm
one it had arrived. they arranged them so that the selector cannot determine which battlefield the soldier had fallen for each of the four unknowns gathered. and edward younger who had served in the second battalion headquarters company, second battalion 50th infantry, american forces in germany had received high military honors, was called upon to select the final unknown to make the voyage to washington. and he did so by placing a bouquet of white roses on one of the four caskets. and a similar ceremony took
2:33 pm
place for the world war ii unknown, was actually not to get too far off topic for the question. but world war ii was such a global war that there was a significant logistical effort to make sure that this unknown soldier could represent all the unknown soldiers, whether they were in europe, in northern africa, in the pacific. so they actually carried out a similar process where they gathered a group of unknowns from each theater and made an anonymous selection, and then they kind of kept repeating the process until finally one unknown, each from the european theater and the pacific theater or the atlantic theater and pacific theater were placed on board a naval vessel just off the coast of virginia. and they were anonimized.
2:34 pm
and he placed a bouquet of red and white roses for the ultimate selection for the second word war. it's always a very fascinating and somber process. some of our listeners put into the chat area some of the answers about bier versus catafalque. i know they just sent it to us. but i'll ask that perhaps that listener donna, if you can put that into the chat for everyone, i think that would be a helpful tool for people as we continue this discussion. by the way, there is a quote i
2:35 pm
meant to mention earlier before i jump to the next questions. when introducing the legislation for the world war i, the original tomb of the unknown soldier, hamilton fish had a really beautiful explanation for why he thought this was important. he said the purpose of the legislation was to, quote, to bring home the body of an unknown american warrior who in himself represents no section, creed, or race in the late war and to typify moreover the soul of america's supreme sacrifice for heroic debt. as we talk about public memory and public mourning, that was at the heart of the legislation. >> we have much more sophisticated identification process. there is no unknown soldier beyond the vietnam war. and vietnam war is actually an
2:36 pm
empty vessel. is that -- >> that's correct. and it's likely to remain the case. again, you hope it's none that have fallen in service of our country. but it's some small solace that dna technology and identifying technology has reached a point where we can identify those who give that last full measure of devotion so their families have some closure, so they can be repatriated or interred in name and that their families have a place to pay tribute in a very personal way. the tomb of the unknown is a very beautiful memorial and an important way that anyone who lost someone could go pay tribute through the channel of the unknown.
2:37 pm
but i think it's reasonable to say that being able to identify people so that they can have a more personal tribute is better. so it's really, you know, we're fortunate. and i think something to be said for the ability of, you know, more rapid medical care. you know, they can do incredible things with medicine in the 21st century that just were not available in those earlier conflicts. so, it's through a combination of factors i think it's thought to be nearly certain that there won't be a future unknown. and we can certainly hope that that's the case. >> so, sam, one of the queries is, how can we be certain that the unknown soldier's truly a
2:38 pm
fallen american and not an enemy or an american ally? >> that is an excellent question. and i think a lot of that has to do with how they were initially, how they would have initially been identified as an american soldier or an enemy soldier but not necessarily been identified as an individual person. and, so, this is one of those areas where i can draw some inference, i don't have a definitive answer necessarily on the specific unknowns, but it seems reasonable that when they were initially interred. because all of these unknowns, they weren't taken straight to the battlefield to washington. they were interred as unknown soldiers amidst american cemeteries in these foreign theaters. and it harkens back to our recent conversation with connie
2:39 pm
morella when she served on the battle monuments commission, these overseas -- again, with the careful lens of inference that i can say that it's likely they were able to tell pretty readily whether someone was an american servicemember or an enemy service member in these conflict when's they were initially interred closer to the battlefield. but that is an excellent question. and it actually brings up an interesting point that tomb and memorial i mentioned about the civil war unknown at arlington is a mix of union and confederate unknowns that they had difficulty, to that point, they had difficulty identifying by the time they moved them to arlington because they had been
2:40 pm
in other parts of the cemetery or other parts of the area that they had difficulty identifying at that point when they were reinterred whether they had been confederate or union. so the civil war unknown tomb at arlington is a mix and it's a knowledged mix in the documentation. >> so, tell us, was there any opposition? this is congress, there's always controversy. was there any opposition to the creation of the -- >> sure. there are some things that seem certain in life to be fractious. but, to the best of my recollection from the research, this was pretty widely held. and through all four of the initial internments, there was pretty bipartisan, pretty wide
2:41 pm
support for this sort of a memorial. so, put it this way. i don't think it was an uphill battle for congressman fish in the 19-teens and the 1920s. and we're seeing a couple points from a couple of folks in the chat section, you know, similar to the point that the uniform they're wearing or where they were buried can help, you know, draw the solid thinking that these are in fact american service members that those initial sort of triage, you know, identifications that this is an american service member, you know, put them into an american cemetery, but they weren't able to identify the person. so thank you to the couple of folks in the chat section. but, anyway, i know we have some more questions here. >> a couple more questions.
2:42 pm
someone asked about the recording. and everyone who is registered will get an email that will give you a link to recording. so, if you want to share this with your friends and neighbors, be happy to do that. you should know, sam, that a former tomb guard who served from '99 to 2001 wanted to say a special thanks. because it was a precious time in his life. >> thank you for your service. it's really, you know, i feel -- i can speak on behalf of the society, it's been an honor for us to play a small part in this commemoration. this is an important thing, and our mission is to inspire and form patriotism. part of that is recognizing the sacrifices that have enabled us to have this constitutional democracy and that telling the story of the temple of democracy, the united states capitol is a story of sacrifices
2:43 pm
made for future generations, sacrifices made for the preservation of our democracy. so it's been an honor working on this, absolutely. >> so, sam, someone has a question. you showed a picture of the monument itself. how was the monument chosen? how was the sculptor chosen? what's the history of the monument and the gathering area around the tomb of the unknown soldier? >> here, let's see what i have in my notes. i'll pull up the -- while i pull this back up. i believe the question is about the actual sort of sarcophagus
2:44 pm
monument. and i know the figures facing -- i know the figures facing towards us in this image represent valor. there are six wreaths representing for the world war i unknowns, six of the major battlefields, six of the major battlefields of the first world war, and then there is that quote facing towards -- let me see if i can use my cursor, and the sentinel guarding the tomb, that beautiful quote that one of our listeners was able to write into us. because, again, it's too good a quote to get it wrong. more specific information to give to you guys about the -- so that's the quick brief on that.
2:45 pm
and, again, the society for the honor guard, tomb of the unknown soldier, and arlington national cemetery both have put together some really outstanding resources to talk about this, talk about the anniversary and to talk about the history of the tomb. and it was carved. i do know that the memorial was carved by the picarelli, the brothers who did some of the carving work at the lincoln memorial and elsewhere in monumental washington. they worked on some the sarcophagus-like monument for the tomb of the unknown soldier. it's steeped in washington, d.c. history as well. >> sam, one of the other things i think we maybe should talk about as we come to the end of our time together is when gavin first approached us, one of the
2:46 pm
things he was very interested in was encouraging people to celebrate the tomb of the unknown soldier in their own community on this veterans day coming up in november. because, while there is not, you know, a tomb of the unknown soldier in every community, there are people who served in the military and people who lost loved ones across the nation. so, that is one thing that the tomb guard society has a set of resources that we can include in the follow-up information with ideas about how to celebrate. they want to have bells, you know, everybody do bells at 11:00, including you can do it on your phone. the amazing thing is now you
2:47 pm
don't need a church bell to have a bell. you can have church bells on your phone. they really wanted to see the creativity of the american spirit as we move forward. and i'm going to -- >> if i may, to that point, they have a whole list of centennial projects that they are promoting, they're working with people to plant never forget gardens with a representation of the tomb guard badge and that here lies in honored glory an unknown soldier but known to god. all of that is on the tombguard.org website that we'll share in the follow-up.
2:48 pm
you said you had another question. >> there's a couple of things as people are sort of posting in both the chat and the q&a, one of the things in the chat is that 41 -- from 41 members of the tomb guard society will be going to france on october 18th to be part of france's recreation of the world war i selection. and the question that came through is the british tomb of the unknown soldier is very important in its national life. but it's not really visited much by foreign dignitaries, whereas our tomb of the unknown soldier is often visited by foreign dignitaries. do you have any insight into how the tomb has become such a big part of global diplomacy? >> that is a fascinating
2:49 pm
question. and this is one of those other areas where being a careful historian i will say i don't have a specific answer to it. i can infer that the british tomb of the unknown soldier in westminster abbey, which of course is still functional space for other purposes. and, of course, ours is here at arlington national cemetery, which is more of a public -- the whole purpose of a national cemetery is paying tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. but in terms of how ours has become such a force for global diplomacy, i'm not -- that's a really fascinating question. it's a geopolitical question. it's a foreign policy question. but you're absolutely -- the
2:50 pm
question is absolutely accurate in pointing out that you can go, the arlington national cemetery has a photo page that you can find
2:51 pm
that there was already some global interest in appreciation of and respect for what we were doing here with ours. thank you. i will mention a brief -- we got a brief correction that the never forget garden plaque is the east release of the tomb for anyone who is looking to plant their own. you can find more information about that on that tomb garden website. >> the other thing several people have been commenting it also made the united states played a critical role in
2:52 pm
financializing both of the world wars which then creating the united states as a world military power. therefore the tomb of the unknown soldiers, a component of that and many european nations and beyond have their own tomb of the unknown soldier but this is ours. we're talking about ours. we also have to love james livingston who pointed out that the tomb is made up of seven pieces. the marble is from colorado and the sculpture was thomas hudson jones. and the architect as mortimer rich. we are interested in folks who have great resource. we're just about at the close of
2:53 pm
our time. would you like to kind of give people a charge as we move forward, we would like to see people not just take, listen to this and say isn't that interest ing but this is one where we like you to take action. we like you to find way in your own community to plant a garden, to do a commemoration. this is 100 years of the tomb of the unknown soldier. it's one way that we recognize the people who served in the military and the families whose loved ones served in the military in the past and even today. give us our charge as we move forward.
2:54 pm
>> our role is civic engagement. there's a lot of ways people engage in our democracy. a lot of that is boding. an important piece of it needs to be present is respect and appreciation for the success -- sacrifices that have been made to give us the system. we have this absolute privilege to live and to exist and work and support this democracy. we have that because people have made the ultimate sacrifice time and time again, to give it to us many generations on. i think our charge, our charge to ourselves, our charge to those of you kind enough to spend time with us today is sometimes, as we build up to this 100th anniversary to the
2:55 pm
tomb of the unknown soldier, think about how civic engagement, how participating in our democracy can be lived out in a way that pays and tribute here to those sacrifices made. it's incredibly important. it's part of our duty, part of our obligation as citizens to be part of making sure that the sacrifices are not forgotten and that we live up to the promise of our democracy. we haven't always lived up to the promise of our founding, the promise of our identity but we always strive to do so. part of that is making that commitment to pay tribute. making that tribute to remember and help appreciate. >> thank you, sam. thank you for your words, your research, your scholarship. we appreciate seeing you in a different role today.
2:56 pm
i'm the director of conferences here at the national world war ii museum. it's my pleasure to have with us

18 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on