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TOMB

Of The

Unknown Soldier

The Sarcophagus

 

The Tomb sarcophagus was completed and opened to the public on April 9, 1932.  It consists of seven rectangular marble pieces with a combined weight of 79 tons.  It was furnished by the Vermont Marble Company of Danby, VT and was quarried in Yule, Colorado (from where the same Yule Marble was quarried for the Lincoln Memorial).

Most people quickly recognize the Tomb from its distinctively sculptured shape and the inscription on the WEST PANEL (facing the Amphitheater) with the words:

HERE RESTS IN
HONORED GLORY

AN AMERICAN
SOLDIER

KNOWN BUT TO GOD

The side panels facing NORTH and SOUTH are divided into three sections by Doric pilasters. In each panel is an inverted wreath. 

 

The front view of the Tomb of the Unknowns.

On the EAST face, looking out over our Nation's Capitol, is the less frequently seen side of the sarcophagus.  The panel displays a composite of three figures, commemorative of the spirit of the Allies of World War I. 

East Side of the Tomb of the Unknowns

.

 

DETAILS:
  • The first Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a sub base and a base or plinth. It was slightly smaller than the present base. This was torn away when the present Tomb was started Aug. 27, 1931. The Tomb was completed and the area opened to the public 9:15 a.m. April 9, 1932, without any ceremony.
  • Cost of the Tomb $48,000
  • Sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones
  • Architect Lorimer Rich
  • Contractors Hagerman & Harris, New York City
  • Inscription Author Unknown

The Tomb consists of seven pieces of rectangular marble:

  • Four pieces in sub base; weight 15 tons
  • One piece in base or plinth; weight 16 tons
  • One piece in die; weight 36 tons
  • One piece in cap; weight 12 tons

Dimensions of the Tomb:

  • Base:
    • Width 8 feet
    • Length 14 feet, 11 inches
    • Height 1 foot, 10 inches
  • Die:
    • Width 6 feet, 4 inches
    • Length 12 feet, 3 1/2 inches
    • Height 5 feet, 5 inches
  • Cap:
    • Width 6 feet, 8 inches
    • Length 12 feet, 7 inches
    • Height 1 foot, 1 3/4 inches
  • Sub base:
    • Height 2 feet, 6 inches

 

Since April 6, 1948 the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.  The soldiers of a new generation that stand watch over heroes from the past are all volunteers from the the 3rd U.S. Infantry, our Nation's oldest active duty infantry unit.  The changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers is one of our finest and most witnessed traditions. 

 

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