Also referred to as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers (although that is not its official name), the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery holds the remains of unidentified soldiers from World Wars I, II, and the Korean Conflict.
Inscribed on the western panel of the Tomb are the poignant words, "Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God" There are six wreaths carved into the north and south of the tomb representing the six major battles of World War I: Ardenne, Belleau Wood, Chateau-Thierry, Meuse-Argonne, Oisiu-Eiseu and Somme.
A Changing of the Guard occurs every half hour during the spring and summer, from March 15 to September 30, and every hour in the fall and winter, from October 1 to March 14.
A great honor is to serve as a sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns, and the "Walking of the Mat" performed while on duty is highly symbolic and meticulously scripted, based on the 21-gun salute:
- 1. The soldier walks 21 steps across the Tomb, with his weapon always on the shoulder opposite the Tomb.
- 2. On the 21st step, the soldier turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds.
- 3. The soldier then turns, changes his weapon to the outside shoulder, and again walks 21 steps.
- 4. This sequence is repeated until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard.
- October through March: 8am to 5pm daily
- April through September: 8am to 7pm daily
- Metro Stop:
- Blueline to the Arlington Cemetery Station
- Location: Memorial Bridge, Arlington, VA
- Phone: 703-607-8559
- Website: www.arlingtoncemetery.net/tombofun