Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier Around The World [History]

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier refers to a grave, which are now usually national monuments, where the remains of an unidentifiable soldier is interred. In 1916, the Reverend David Railton who was a British Army chaplain, had seen a grave marked by a rough cross with words written in pencil, “An Unknown British Soldier”. He proposed that Britain should have a grave as a national monument. At the same time a proposal was also passed in France for a similar monument. On November 11, 1920 Britain’s Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was created at Westminster Abbey and in France La Tombe Du Soldate Inconnu was placed in the Arc de Triomphe.

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The idea of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier spread throughout other countries and 1921 marked the unveiling of similar tombs in the United States, Portugal and Italy. Many more counties have followed suit honoring their armed forces since then. Here are just some of the many Tombs of the Unknown Soldier from around the world. The soldiers may be unknown, but they are not forgotten.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument in Rome

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located at the Monumento Nazionale a Vittorio Emanuele II, also known as Altare della Patria (Altar of the Fatherland) in Rome. It was build after WWI and the body of the unknown soldier was buried in a state funeral on November 4, 1921. Like many Tombs of the Unknown Soldier around the world, it has an eternal flame to honor the loss.

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France

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The Arc de Triomphe was built to honor the soldiers who fought and died in France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI lies underneath its vault, beneath the Arc. He was interred on Armistice Day 1920. The first eternal flame in Western and Eastern Europe is there in memory of the dead who were never identified. The coffin was in the chapel of the Arc on November 10, 1920 and then moved to its final resting place on January 28, 1921. The top of the tomb is inscribed, “ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918” (“Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918”).

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the National War Memorial in Ottawa, Canada

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Canada is located at the National War Memorial (The Response) in Confederation Square, Ottawa. It was originally built to commemorate WWI and was officially unveiled on May 21, 1939. In 1982 it was rededicated to include WWII and the Korean War. In 2000, The Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added to the site as a symbol of the sacrifice made by every Canadian for their country. The unidentified soldier was exhumed from a cemetery near Vimy Ridge, France, the site of one of the most famous Canadian battles during WWI, and was re-interred on May 28, 2000, in front of the War Memorial.

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Tomb of the Unknowns (Unknown Soldier) at Arlington National Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

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The Tomb of the Unknowns (also referred to as The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) is located in Arlington National Cemetery in the United States. The interment ceremonies for the WWI vetern was held on November 11, 1921 at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Ceremtery. On May 30, 1958, unknowns of WWII and the Korean War were also interrred in the plaza beside their WWI comrade.

A Vietnam Unknown was added on Memorial Day, May 28, 1984, but were later exhumed in 1998 and identified as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie and was reinterred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. The original crypt that once held the remains of the Vietnam Unknown has since been replaced and the inscription “Vietnam” and the dates of the conflict, has been changed to “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen”.

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The Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, Australia

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The Australian War Memorial, located in Australia’s capital, Canberra, is widely regarded as one of the most significant memorials of its kind. It consists of three main parts which include the Commemorative Area where the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier lies, Memorial galleries as well as a Research Centre where records are kept. The building was officially opened on Remembrance Day, November 11, 1941.

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The Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Sofia, Bulgaria

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The Monument to the Unknown Soldier (Паметник на Незнайния воин, Pametnik na Neznayniya voin) is located in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. It was officially opened on September 22, 1981 for the 1300 years’ celebration of the founding of Danube Bulgaria. It includes an eternal flame, turf from Stara Zagora and Shipka Pass (which are sites of two of the most important battles of the Russo-Turkish War of Liberation) as well as a sculpture of a lion (a national symbol of Bulgaria). The lion guards the Eternal flame and waits for those who will never return.

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Athens, Greece

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Μνημείο του Αγνώστου Στρατιώτη) in Greece is located at Syntagma Square in central Athens. Members of Evzones, the historic elite members of the Greek Army are stationed in front of it. There is a marble picture in the background which is a copy of an ancient warrior grave stele (stone slab) that depicts a hoplite, a citizen-soldier of the Ancient Greek, lying dead on a small slab.

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Tomb of the Unknown Warrior at the National War Memorial in Wellington, New Zealand

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The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior is located at the National War Memorial in Wellington. The Warrior was exhumed in France on October 10, 2004 and arrived back in New Zealand on November 10, 2004. He was laid to rest November 11, 2004, the 86th Armistice Day. The Tomb is sealed with a bronze mantel which bears the words
“An Unknown New Zealand Warrior
He Toa Matangaro No Aotearoa”

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Warsaw, Poland

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Grób Nieznanego Żołnierza) is located in Warsaw beneath the colonnade that joins the two wings of the Saxon Palace. The coffin was buried along with 14 urns containing soil from battlegrounds where the Polish soldiers had fought. There are five eternal flames. The building was slightly damaged during the 1939 invasion of Poland but was quickly rebuilt and seized by German authorities. The palace was completely demolished in December 1944, with only part of the central colonnade, which sheltered the Tomb, remaining. In late 1945 reconstruction began and on May 8, 1946 soil from 24 additional battlegrounds were added to the urns as well as more tablets.

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Bucharest, Romania

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ( Mormântul Soldatului Necunoscut) is located in Bucharest. On May 13, 1923 one of ten unidentified soldiers was chosen to represent all others who could not be identified. His coffin travelled to Bucharest on May 15, 1923. On May 17, 1923, the coffin was buried in Carol Park. The stone slab read:
“Here lies at rest happily unto the Lord the Unknown Soldier, who sacrificed his life for the unity of the Romanian people. On his bones lies the land of united Romania. 1916-1919.”

On the night of December 22-23, 1958 the Tomb, in great secrecy, was moved to the Marasesti Mausoleum, but was later moved close to its original location in 1991 after the fall of the regime. The Tomb was moved once again in 2007, this time even closer to its original 1923 location.

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Могила Неизвестного Солдата in Russian, or Mogila Neizvestnova Soldata) is a war memorial located at the Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden in Moscow. The remains of the unknown soldiers that were killed in the Battle of Moscow in 1941 were moved to the Kremlin Wall location on December 1966, the 25th anniversary of the battle. On May 8, 1967, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was added. There is an Eternal Flame of Glory in the center of a five point star in a square pit located just in front of the tombstone. The bronze inscription reads:
“Имя твоё неизвестно, подвиг твой бессмертен” (Imya tvoyo neizvestno, podvig tvoy bessmerten, “Your name is unknown, your deed is immortal”).

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Brussels, Belgium

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located at The Congress Column (Colonne du Congrès; Dutch: Congreskolom) which is on the Place du Congrès, Congresplein in Brussels. On November 11, 1922 five anonymous soldiers were buried at the foot of the monument. An eternal flame surmounts their tomb.

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Here is actual footage of the very moving funeral of “The Unknown Soldier” in London, England on November 11, 1920. Follow his amazing journey from the battlefields of France to his return home on the HMS Verdun and his burial at Westminster Abbey. To this day he is still honoured by Queens and buried with Kinds. Lest we forget.



They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted;
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

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