The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a white marble monument that honors unidentified American service members who died in battle. The monument was originally constructed to honor those who perished during the First World War.
The tomb doesn’t have an official name. After the internment of soldiers representing World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam Conflict, the unofficial name of the memorial became the Tomb of the Unknowns. The Vietnam crypt is empty because the remains of the service member were later identified.
In 1921, Congress approved the interment of an unknown soldier in the plaza of the recently completed Memorial Amphitheater. The original goal of covering the tomb with a monument was accomplished in 1931. The Yule marble slab was quarried in Colorado and sculpted by carvers whose other works include the DuPont Circle Fountain and Apotheosis of Democracy.
There are three wreaths on the north and south panels. The wreaths represent the six major engagements of World War I. The east panel has Greek figures that embody Peace, Valor and Victory. The west panel has a sentiment honoring the fallen soldier.
The tomb is guarded 24 hours a day by members of a special platoon from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard). The sentinels don’t wear rank insignia to ensure that they do not outrank the fallen.