For the first time in almost 100 years, you can get close to one of the most solemn sites at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
On Nov. 9 and 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., the public will be able to walk on the tomb and lay flowers in front of it as part of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration.
The event is free and open to the public and will allow people to “personally pay their respects to the Unknown Soldiers,” a news release from the cemetery said. Only the sentinels of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or “The Old Guard,” have the privilege of walking next to the tomb.
“The Tomb has served as the heart of Arlington National Cemetery. It is a people’s memorial that inspires reflection on service, valor, sacrifice and mourning,” Karen Durham-Aguilera, executive director of Army National Military Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery, said in a statement.
You can sign up at the flower ceremony’s event site. You may bring your own flowers, but there will be free roses, gerbera daisies and sunflowers that will be distributed. You will need a government-issued ID.
On Nov. 9, there will be a ceremony at 8 a.m. with representatives from the Crow Nation. They will place flowers at the tomb and recite a prayer given 100 years ago by Chief Plenty Coups. There will also be talks at the amphitheater throughout the day.
On Nov. 10, Army Chief of Chaplains Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem will recite a benediction to end the event at 4 p.m.
The public is invited to observe a joint full honors procession on Veterans Day. This replicates the elements of the World War I Unknown Soldier’s 1921 funeral procession. There will also be a flyover with aircraft from all branches of the military.
“As a sacred memorial site and the grave of three unknown American service members, the Tomb connects visitors with the legacy of the U.S. armed forces throughout the nation’s history,” Durham-Aguilera said.