ARLINGTON, Va. — On Veterans Day, Nov. 11, at 9 a.m., the public is invited to observe a joint service flyover and full honors procession honoring the centennial anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The procession will take place along a special route inside Arlington National Cemetery.
“It’s our duty to never forget the Americans who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country,” said Ms. Karen Durham-Aguilera, Executive Director of the Office of Army Cemeteries and Arlington National Cemetery. “One hundred years ago, on November 11, 1921, the World War I Unknown Soldier was transported, by a procession, to his final resting place in Arlington National Cemetery. This year, we are recreating elements of that procession, and we invite the public to observe this pivotal moment in American history as thousands of Americans did in 1921.”
The special procession begins at the main entrance to Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Avenue (near the Welcome Center). From there, troops from the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), U.S. Marine Corps Ceremonial and Guard Company, U.S. Air Force Honor Guard, U.S. Navy Honor Guard, the U.S. Army Band (“Pershing’s Own”) and U.S. Coast Guard Honor Guard will then proceed west to the gates of the cemetery, turn left onto Eisenhower Drive, proceed to McClellan Drive, pass under McClellan Gate, continue moving up McClellan Drive, and then take a left onto Roosevelt Drive. The procession will conclude at the base of the plaza on the east side of the Tomb near the Roosevelt Fountain.
Areas along Memorial Avenue, Eisenhower Avenue and near McClellan Drive will be designated as public viewing locations for anyone interested in observing the special procession.
The Old Guard will also present World War I Doughboy, World War II and Korean War formations, creating a historical tie to the wars represented by the Unknowns. Military attaches from the original nine countries participating in the 1921 ceremony will also attend.
A joint service aerial review (flyover) will take place over the cemetery concurrently with the procession. Aircraft formations from each service will honor the Unknown Soldiers.
“The efforts today of every service member supporting today’s TUS 100th commemoration represent all service members and honor the Unknown heroes who lie here, warriors who made the ultimate sacrifice,” said Maj. Gen. Allan M. Pepin, commander, Joint Task Force-National Capital Region and U.S. Army Military District of Washington. “As our troops continue to stand watch over this hallowed ground through the next 100 years and beyond, may we always honor and remember those who gave so much to our grateful nation.”
• The centennial procession and aerial review is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. Anyone interested in observing the commemorative events must be along the parade route no later than 8:45 a.m., as there will be no crossing the parade route once it has started. The route is also ADA-accessible and stroller-friendly. The procession will take place rain or shine.
Public access, parking and traffic information are as follows:
• All visitors must have a government-issued ID for access. Cemetery entrances include:
- Ord and Weitzel Gate (pedestrians only)
- 123 Service Complex (pedestrians only)
- Old Post Chapel Gate (family pass holder vehicle access/general public pedestrian access)
- Memorial Ave (family pass holder vehicle access)
- Welcome Center (pedestrian access)
• Memorial Avenue and Eisenhower Avenue will be closed for short periods of time to accommodate the procession. Family pass holders will not be able to gain access along these roads during these short closures. Expect delays in and around the cemetery to include road closures in the immediate areas.
• Family pass holders will not be authorized to drive in the cemetery near the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier or park on nearby streets. Presentation of a family pass for your loved one’s grave location will be required when driving near the Memorial Amphitheater.
Additionally, due to COVID protocols, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs is hosting an invitation only Presidential Armed Forces Full Honor Wreath-Laying Ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the National Veterans Day Observance at the Memorial Amphitheater immediately following the procession and flyover. A virtual program may be viewed at @ARLINGTONNATL.
Other events being conducted during the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial include:
• The Centennial Commemoration Public Flower Ceremony, a two-day event, will be free and open to the public and will allow visitors to personally pay their respects to the Unknown Soldiers. This is a rare opportunity for the public to walk next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a privilege otherwise given only to the Sentinels of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard.” The flower ceremony will be held Tuesday, Nov. 9, and Wednesday, Nov. 10 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration is required for the flower ceremony at EventBrite.com: https://anctomb100.eventbrite.com/
• Two new, complementary historical museum exhibits at the ANC Welcome Center and the Memorial Amphitheater Display Room, including interpretive panels, artifacts, and historic photographs and films, are open to the public. Online videos of both exhibits are currently in development and will be available on this website and Arlington National Cemetery's social media platforms (@arlingtonnatl).
• A free educational module for students and lifelong learners of all ages, titled “The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,” is available at https://education.arlingtoncemetery.mil.
• The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier official commemorative guide will be published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History and distributed in print and online (Fall 2021).
Editor’s Note: As part of Arlington National Cemetery’s new education program, an educational module on the history and significance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is available at https://education.arlingtoncemetery.mil.
The module is a resource for teachers, students and adult “lifelong learners.” It includes lesson plans, assignments and primary-source readings for elementary, middle and high school students, as well as self-guided walking tours that can be used to explore the cemetery either virtually or in person. Lesson plans align with national and state social studies standards and can be easily adapted for homeschooling or virtual learning.
Please visit www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Tomb100 for the most up-to-date news and information, including entrance and security requirements for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration.