Public gets rare chance to pay respects up close at Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Feelings too powerful to experience by themselves brought old friends together Tuesday near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

A couple with shared military service traveled to meet up and road trip to the D.C. area to pay their respects together. Another couple commemorating the 50th anniversary of a friendship came from different states to honor the service and sacrifice of the fallen, who includes one of their sons.

Sgt. 1st Class Marcus Muralles was a flight medic and Army Ranger who died in Operation Red Wings in 2005, according to his mother, Rosemarie Dill. The Shelbyville, Indiana, resident explained that her “sister” — friend Patricia Peters — “was there when he was born.”

The pair laid flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and at Muralles’ grave site.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 1921-2021 is a memorial site and the grave of three unknown American service members. As part of the Centennial Commemoration, the public can walk on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza and lay flowers in front of the Tomb through Wednesday. National Veterans Day observances on Thursday will be livestreamed and include a military flyover.

“It’s just amazing. You don’t get opportunities like this,” 15-year Army veteran Ruth McGuire said of being able to see the tomb so closely.

McGuire, of Pennsylvania, met five-year Marine Corps veteran Andrew Koenig, of New Jersey, halfway here to continue their journey to Virginia.

“It makes us realize what we did and why we provided the service to our country when we did, and it helps us to show the importance of what we do and why we did what we did,” Koenig said.

Being here during Veterans Day week, he said, is part of something special that’s important to each of them.

“It’s the opportunity to spend time together with somebody who understands the concept of what we went through. So it’s a good time. Somber and tough,” he said.

Feelings of appreciation for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice is what drew WTOP reporter Mike Murillo to the tomb on his day off work to pay respects.

“It really was a powerful moment standing steps away from the tomb, especially as I placed the flowers inches away from the inscription that you can only see from afar before: ‘Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known only to God.'”

Murillo has several family members who served in the military, “so it was important for me to be here for not only me, but for them,” he said.

A single guard stands watch near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Tuesday.

Visitors wait in line, with flowers in hand, to honor the Tomb of the Unknown Solider.

As part of Arlington National Cemetery’s Centennial Commemoration, the public has a rare opportunity through Wednesday to see the tomb up close and lay flowers near it.

A sign calls for “Silence and Respect” at Arlington National Cemetery.

Organizers hand out flowers, delivered from South America, for guests visiting the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery Tuesday.

Rosemarie Dill of Shelbyville, Indiana, alongside Patricia Peters at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier pay respects and visit Dill’s son, Sgt. Marcus Muralles.

Sgt. Marcus Muralles was a flight medic and an army ranger who died in operation Red Wings in 2005.

Rosemarie Dill of Shelbyville, Indiana, visits her son, Sgt. Marcus Muralles at his gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery as people honor the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Visitors of the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington National Cemetery take photos at the gallery.

(1/9)

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up