Public can honor Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, lay flowers at grave

ARLINGTON, Va. — Honoring the nation’s unknown soldiers is usually left to members of “The Old Guard,” the sentinels of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, as well as a select few daily at Arlington National Cemetery.

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”For the first time in nearly 100 years ... as part of the ...Centennial Commemoration, the public will be able to walk on the Tomb of the Unknowns Plaza and lay flowers,” the cemetery said in a statement, The Washington Post reported.

The tomb was dedicated on Nov. 11, 1921, when the remains of an unknown World War I soldier were brought from France and were buried at the site. Unknown members of the military from World War II and the Korean War were added in 1958. A military member from the Vietnam War was interred in 1984. Those remains were identified in 1998 as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. Blassie was moved to St. Louis and the Vietnam War crypt has remained empty.

For more on the history of the tomb, click here.

“This is a rare opportunity for the public to walk next to the Tomb ... a privilege otherwise given only to the sentinels of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, ‘The Old Guard,’” the cemetery said, according to the Post.

Wreaths can be placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns, but the ceremonies are exclusive to four groups a day who submit an application request in advance.

But for the first time in decades, the public will be permitted to leave a floral offering at the site, Military Times reported.

The floral laying will be held Nov. 9 and 10, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Preregistration is required and can be found here.

The Crow Nation will start the ceremony on Nov. 9, reciting a prayer that was given a century ago and by laying flowers on the tomb, Military Times reported.

Visitors are being asked to provide their own flowers, but there will be free roses, daisies and sunflowers available at the site, the Post reported.

For more on what’s being done to mark the tomb’s first century, click here.