Tomb of the Unknown Soldier  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
tomb, unknown, soldier

Throughout history, many soldiers have died in wars without their remains being identified. In modern times, nations have developed the practice of having a symbolic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that represents the war grave of those unidentified soldiers. They usually contain the remains of a dead soldier who is unidentified (or "known but to God" as the stone is sometimes inscribed) and thought to be impossible ever to identify, so that he might serve as a symbol for all of the unknown dead wherever they fell. The anonymity of the entombed soldier is key to the symbolism of the monument: since his or her identity is unknown, it could theoretically be the tomb of anyone who fell in service of the nation in question, and therefore serves as a monument to all of their sacrifices. Much work goes into trying to find a certain soldier, and to verify that it is indeed one of the relevant nation's soldiers.


Perhaps the first memorial of this kind in the world is the 1858 Landsoldaten ("The Foot Soldier") monument of the First War of Schleswig in Fredericia, Denmark. Another early memorial of this kind is the 1866 memorial to the unknown dead of the American Civil War.

The modern trend was started after First World War when both France and the United Kingdom erected a tomb for unknown soldiers in 1920. The French tomb was installed under the Arc de Triomphe, and the decision to erect it was confirmed by Parliament before a similar idea had even been publicised in the United Kingdom. In the case of the United Kingdom, an Unknown Warrior was chosen on behalf of all First World War British Empire forces in Westminster Abbey. The coffin was followed into the abbey by the King-Emperor, George V and escorted by a guard of honour formed of one hundred recipients of the Victoria Cross. Part of the inscription on the stone reads:

"They buried him among the kings Because he Had done good toward God and Toward His house

These tombs are also used to commemorate the unidentified fallen of later wars. Monuments have been built as recently as 1982 in the case of Iraq, 1993 in the case of Australia, and 2004 in the case of New Zealand.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Tomb of the Unknown Soldier" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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