America's Unknown Soldier comes home
you'll never forget
Got his Gun by Dalton Trumbo. The harrowing story of another
Unknown Warrior of WW1. Ron Kovic, author of Born on the Fourth of
July calls it "the most revolutionary, searing document
against war and injustice ever written."
A year after the
British honoured their own Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey,
America paid its own tribute to an unknown victim of the
Great War. On Memorial Day, 1921, four unidentifiable bodies were exhumed from four American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army
sergeant Edward F. Younger,
who had been wounded in combat, and had been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal
selected the America's Unknown Soldier from four identical caskets at the city hall in
Chalons-sur-Marne on 24 October 1921.
The chosen unknown soldier was
brought to the United States aboard the USS Olympia. Those remaining were
reburied in the Meuse Argonne cemetery.
Thousands filed past to
pay homage while the Unknown Soldier lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda. On
1921 President Harding officiated at the burial ceremonies at the Memorial
Amphitheatre at Arlington National Cemetery.
Before the simple black coffin
was lowered, a layer of earth brought from France was placed
in the grave.
Associated Press reporter Kirk Larue
Simpson won a Pulitzer Prize in 1922 for his reports during the ceremonies
surrounding the arrival and burial of the Unknown Soldier. This is an
extract from his report on 11 November 1921.
Under the wide and starry skies of his own homeland, America's
unknown dead from France sleeps tonight, a soldier home from the wars.
Alone, he lies in the narrow cell of stone that guards his body; but
his soul has entered into the spirit that is America.
Wherever liberty is held close in
men's hearts, the honor and the glory and the pledge of high endeavor poured out over this
nameless one of fame will be told and sung by Americans for all time. . . .
The Tomb of the Unknowns
in Arlington Cemetery
text of all the Associated Press reports about the homecoming of
America's Unknown Soldier in Word [doc] and Adobe Acrobat [pdf]
format is now available for downloading as a zip
read Aftermath USA:
America's Armistice Day 1918