Charles Keefer's Blog

Unknown Soldier

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Regressing back to Washington, D.C., this is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is guarded 24/7 and the changing of the guard is a popular tourist spectacle.

The changing of the guard is, actually, rather boring. It involves one officer and two enlisted men, one of whom goes off duty. It takes a few minutes.

I was rather put off by the fact that there is only one guy guarding our monument to all those who fell in defense of this country and who are burried in unmarked graves all around the world. I thought at least half a dozen would be appropriate.

I guess we can’t do justice to the Unknown Soldier because we have a shortage of men in Iraq and Afghanastan.

I wondered if his weapon actually had ammo and what he would do if some crazy tried to deface the site. Can he shoot a wierdo with a can of spray paint?

But wait, I didn’t record whether the guard had fixed bayonet. If he did, he could eviscerate the bastard. That would do it.

What if there were two of them?

What are the rules of engagement?

Then I looked it up and found out that it wasn’t even our idea. Here we go from Wikipedia:

“The idea was first conceived in 1916 by the Reverend David Railton, who, while serving in the British Army as a chaplain on the Western Front, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross, which bore the pencil-written legend ‘An Unknown British Soldier’. He proposed that a similar grave should exist in Britain as a national monument. The idea received the support of the Dean of Westminster and later from King George V, responding to a wave of public support. At the same time, there was a similar undertaking in France, where the idea was debated and agreed upon in Parliament.”

“The United Kingdom and France unveiled their monuments on the same day – Armistice Day, 1920. In Britain, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was created at Westminster Abbey, while in France La tombe du soldat inconnu was placed in the Arc de Triomphe.”

“The idea of a symbolic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier spread rapidly to other countries. In 1921, the following year, such tombs were unveiled in the United States, Portugal and Italy. Since then, many other nations have followed the practice and installed their own tombs.”

I have been to London. I stood next to the tomb of Issac Newton in Westminster Abbey. I did not see the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.

I have been to Paris. I walked around the Arc de Triomphe. I did not see La Tombe du Soldat Inconnu, which seems very strange in that the tomb is femine and the soldier most probably was male, not to mention that I missed it. Yo, the French.

I take heart that ours is bigger and on top of a hill. You can’t miss it.

I would now insert the countries where some of our unknowns have fallen, but the list taxes my memory and I’m afraid I would miss several if not many.

I happen to know two places where we won’t lose any more unknowns because of DNA testing.

Sorta takes the fun out of it, don’t you think?


Written by Charles Keefer

February 26, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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