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1921: Unknown solider laid to rest

Looking back on News Headlines - November 12 1921

President Harding paid homage to an unidentified World War I solider laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. today. While people who paid their respects knew little about the man, he represented all those who died in war. The Washington Post said on November 12, 1921, "Never before perhaps did hero have so wonderful a burial, so inspiring in its symbolism. Never had Americans found in such a symbolism such depths of spiritual meaning."

In 1932, on the 14th anniversary of Armistice, a white marble tomb designed by sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones and architect Lorimer Rich was superimposed over the temporary granite tomb. The new tomb depicted figures symbolizing valor, victory and courage and contained the inscription, "Here lies in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."

In 1956, a bill signed by President Eisenhower extended tributes to the unknowns of World War II and the Korean War when two soldiers, each representing a war, were buried at the Tomb of the Unknown. In 1984, President Reagan presided over the funeral for an unknown solider from the Vietnam War. Yet, as DNA technology advanced, it made it much easier for scientists from the Department of Defense to identify unknown soldiers. In 1998, Defense Secretary William Cohen ordered the Vietnam tomb exhumed. DNA evidence showed the solider was no longer unknown - the remains were of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie.

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