Throughout history, thousands of wars have been fought and millions of soldiers have lost their lives, but only an insignificant fraction of victims had their monuments erected, honored or remembered through stories. The majority of them had their remains sent home to their families where they now lie in some cemetery, in some corner of the world, remembered only by their closest friends and families. Sometimes bodies are so badly mutilated and burned that many fallen soldiers remain unidentified.
After World War 1, a movement began to commemorate these unknown soldiers with a single tomb, that would contain the body of one such unidentified soldier. That one soldier would then serve as a symbol of the sacrifice of all the unknown soldiers who died in battle. Today, there are many such memorials around the world. They are called “Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.”
A soldier of the U.S. Army stands guard over The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Virginia. Photo credit
The proposal for commemorating the unknown victims of war with a single tomb was first made by Reverend David Railton, in 1916, after seeing a grave marked by a rough cross with a pencil-written legend "An Unknown British Soldier", while serving in the British Army as a chaplain on the Western Front. His suggestion was received with support from the public as well as from the Dean of Westminster, Prime Minister and King George V. At the same time a proposal for a similar monument was passed in France.
On November 11, 1920, the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior was created at Westminster Abbey, in Britain, while in in France La tombe du soldat inconnu was placed in the Arc de Triomphe. The idea of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier spread throughout other countries and within a few years similar tombs were erected in many countries.
Here are some selected Tombs of the Unknown Soldier from around the world.
The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in London
The very first Tomb of the Unknown Warrior is located in Westminster Abbey, London, and contains the grave of an unknown soldier whose remains were exhumed from a battlefield and reburied here. The grave was then capped with a black Belgian marble stone featuring an inscription composed by the Dean of Westminster, engraved with brass from melted down wartime ammunition.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, , accompanied by Dean of Westminster the Reverend John Hall, right, walks by the tomb of unknown warriors on the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Photo credit
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in France
The day the remains of the unknown soldier was lowered into a grave in Westminster Abbey, another body was buried beneath Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The slab on top bears the inscription ICI REPOSE UN SOLDAT FRANÇAIS MORT POUR LA PATRIE 1914–1918 ("Here lies a French soldier who died for the fatherland 1914–1918").
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in USA
The American Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, United States of America. The tomb was unveiled in November 11, 1921. The monument is guarded all round the clock, all round the year by soldiers of the United States Army. To serve as a Tomb Guard is considered one of the highest honors. When watching over the tomb, the Tomb Guards follow a very elaborate ritual that involves marching down a precise path, waiting, shifting weapon to the other shoulder, and then marching back down the same path, all clocked precisely to the last second.
The tomb is guarded all round the clock, no matter what the weather is. Here, Spc. Brian Gougler guards the Tomb as snow begins to fall Jan. 9, 2012. Photo credit
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Belgium
The Belgium Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located at the foot of the Congress Column on the Place du Congrès Congresplein in Brussels, where is buried the remains of five unknown soldiers. The monument was unveiled on 11 November 1922.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Canada
The Canadian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located before the National War Memorial in Confederation Square, Ottawa, Ontario. The memorial holds the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died in France during World War I. His remains were exhumed from a cemetery in the vicinity of Vimy Ridge, the site of a famous Canadian battle.
The Unknown Soldier Memorial in Egypt
Egypt has many Unknown Soldier Memorials for Egyptian and Arab soldiers, but the most famous is the one in Cairo. The Unknown Soldier Memorial in Cairo is a pyramid-shaped monument in Nasr City, constructed in 1974 in honour of Egyptians and Arabs who lost their lives in the 1973 October War.
The monument is a magnificent hollow pyramid, 36 meters tall and made of concrete. At the center of the base is a solid basalt cube representing the soldier's tomb.
Monument to the Unknown Soldier in Baghdad
The Monument to the Unknown Soldier in central Baghdad was built in 1980 when the Iran–Iraq War began. The Monument represents a traditional shield dropping from the dying grasp of an Iraqi warrior. The shield hangs over a cube made from layers of metal. The cube itself is connected to an underground museum by a long shaft with windows that allow light to shine in from above. Inside the museum, visitors can look up at the ceiling and see through the openings leading to the cube above.
Photo credit: unknown
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Italy
The Italian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located in Altare della Patria, a monument built in honour of the first king of a unified Italy, and is built under the statue of goddess Roma. It contains the body of an unknown soldier killed during World War I.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Greece
The Greek Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 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.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Russia
The Russian Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located in Moscow, at the Kremlin Wall in the Alexander Garden. The remains of the unknown soldiers killed in the Battle of Moscow in 1941 were initially buried in a mass grave at the city of Zelenograd, but was relocated to the Kremlin Wall in 1966. The dark red porphyry monument is decorated with a bronze sculpture of a laurel branch and a soldier's helmet laid upon a banner.
Subscribe to our Newsletter and get articles like this delieverd straight to your inbox