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ArlingtonWreath-laying to mark centennial of Unknown Soldier

Wreath-laying to mark centennial of Unknown Soldier

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A wreath-laying ceremony and subsequent reception marking the 100th anniversary of the selection of the first service member to rest at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery will be held on Sunday, Oct. 24.

The event is sponsored by the Arlington-Reims Committee of the Arlington Sister City Association, and will include representatives from the French government as well as the Arlington government. Community members are invited.

On Oct. 24, 1921, the bodies of four American service members killed in action during the war, whose identities could not be established, were exhumed from gravesites in France, taken to the city hall in Chalons-en-Champagne and placed in identical caskets. There, U.S. Army Sgt. Edward Younger, who had been highly decorated for valor during the war, selected the second casket from the left by placing a spray of white roses on it, designating the body to be returned to the U.S. for burial. (The other bodies were reinterred in American war cemeteries in Europe.)

The selected body was transported from Europe on the USS Olympia, which had gained fame as the flagship of Commodore George Dewey’s Pacific fleet in the Spanish-American War. The World War I Unknown then lay in repose at the U.S. Capitol until interment ceremonies, presided over by President Warren G. Harding, took place on Nov. 11, 1921 – the third anniversary of the armistice that ended most fighting in Europe.

Over the years, the bodies of unknown service members from World War II, Korea and Vietnam also were placed in the tomb, although after the identity of the Vietnam War Unknown later was established, his body was disinterred and buried separately.

Participants wishing to view the wreath-laying ceremony, to be held at 12:15 p.m., should plan on arriving no later than noon and following all COVID protocols. The reception will be held at 1:15 p.m. at the Tiffany Room at the Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd.

To register, see the Website at https://bit.ly/3p0Ozv.

In a private ceremony to be held the morning of Oct. 24, a bouquet will be laid by the grave of Sgt. Younger, who after the war went on to a career with the U.S. Post Office Department before his death in 1942. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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