The Unknowns

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      The Unknowns

      On Memorial Day, we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our freedoms. This year, we speak with Arlington Cemetery Historian Timothy Frank, on recognizing a century of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

      Timothy Frank/Arlington National Cemetery Historian: The American people started writing letters to Congress and to the War Department saying that we should honor an unknown soldier here at Arlington to represent the unknowns Americans who fell in World War One. Hamilton Fish, a representative from New York and a World War One veteran himself proposed legislation to select the remains of one unknown soldier and bring him here to the United States.

      And on November 11th, 1921, he was buried here in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

      The tomb today is guarded by members of the third infantry regiment, the old guard, and the reason why really stems back to the early years of the tomb. In 1925, there were newspaper reports saying that tourists were being disrespectful at the tomb and the professional photographers were taking photographs and charging people for photographs and doing other disrespectful things. So the army assigned a civilian guard during daylight hours in 1925. In 1926, they provided an army guard during daylight hours. In 1937, they went to a 24 hour guard. In 1948, the members of the old guard took over and they've been guarding ever since 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

      This is a Centennial year of the burial of the unknown soldier.

      Every day is Memorial day at Arlington National Cemetery. Every single day, a dignitary or a school group or a veterans group or civic organization lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. And by doing that, they are really honoring all of America's unknowns from all of our wars.

      Many veterans have told me, that freedom is not free. These unknowns that were buried here to represent the other unknowns who did not return, they gave their lives and their identities for us. And we remember them and every day I come up and I look out at the tomb and I think of that.