Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of the Army National Military Cemetery and Arlington National Cemetery, said this is the first time in 96 years that visitors have been allowed to enter the mausoleum.
The rare opportunity for the public to get close to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier coincides with its centenary.
“The next two days will truly be a historic, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said Tuesday morning, beginning the two-day flower laying ceremony in the mausoleum.
Since 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been the final resting place of three unknown American soldiers, but it has also served as a symbolic grave for unidentified or unaccounted American soldiers.
“When you offer flowers, we encourage you in Arlington to think about the meaning of the tomb. Through the simple act of offering flowers, you are not only commemorating the three unknown persons buried here, but also to all the unknown or missing American soldiers pay tribute to Arlington National Cemetery’s historian Tim Frank at the opening ceremony on Tuesday.
The flower ceremony that began on Tuesday also included a smearing ceremony and prayer ceremony hosted by Crow Nation.
On Tuesday morning, a group of people and families, including Army veteran Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, lined up to lay flowers at the grave.
The public will be able to lay flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier between 9 am and 4 pm Eastern Time on Tuesday and Wednesday. Arlington National Cemetery stated on its website that it does “expect another event in our lifetime to allow the public to approach the mausoleum in this way.”
Visitors to Arlington National Cemetery need to provide a government-issued ID to enter.
An invited wreath laying ceremony will be held at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Thursday to commemorate Veterans Day. President Joe Biden plans to attend.
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