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A wreath laying ceremony and subsequent reception marking the 100th anniversary of the selection of the first serviceman to rest at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery will take place on Sunday, October 24.
The event is sponsored by the Arlington-Reims Committee of the Association of Sister Cities of Arlington and will include representatives from the French government as well as the Arlington government. Members of the community are invited.
On October 24, 1921, the bodies of four American soldiers killed in action during the war, whose identity could not be established, were exhumed from graves in France, taken to the town hall of Châlons-en-Champagne and placed in coffins. There, US Army Sgt. Edward Younger, who had been highly decorated for his bravery during the war, chose the second casket from the left by placing a wreath of white roses there, designating the body to be sent back to the United States for burial. (The remaining bodies were reburied in American war cemeteries in Europe.)
The selected body was transported from Europe to the USS Olympia, which had become the flagship of Commodore George Dewey’s Pacific Fleet during the Spanish-American War. The Unknown World War I then rested on the United States Capitol until the burial ceremonies, chaired by President Warren G. Harding, took place on November 11, 1921 – the third anniversary of the armistice that set most of the fighting in Europe ended.
Over the years, the bodies of unknown servicemen from WWII, Korea and Vietnam were also placed in the tomb, although after the identity of the unknown Vietnam War was later established, his body was exhumed and buried separately.
Participants wishing to attend the wreath laying ceremony, which will be held at 12:15 p.m., should plan to arrive no later than noon and following all COVID protocols. The reception will be held at 1:15 p.m. at the Tiffany Hall of the Arlington Arts Center, 3550 Wilson Blvd.
To register, visit the website at https://bit.ly/3p0Ozv.
In a private ceremony to be held on the morning of October 24, a bouquet will be placed near the grave of Sgt. Younger, who after the war pursued a career in the United States Postal Service before his death in 1942. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.