WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — This Veteran’s Day, Arlington National Cemetery wants to honor our nation’s veterans in a historic way. For the first time in decades, the normally protected area surrounding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier will be opened for the public. It’s all a part of the Tombs’ Centennial Commemoration.
It’s sacred ground, protected 24/7 by the “Old Guard.”
But this Veteran’s Day, for the first time in nearly a century, the Tomb of the Unknown Solider plaza will open for the public to pay their respects.
“We’re gonna allow the public to walk across the plaza as a part of that stop and place a flower to honor and remember the unknowns,” said Dr. Gerald Lowe, Chief of Operations with Arlington National Cemetery.
Lowe has spent the last three years planning for the Centennial Commemoration — marking 100 years since the first unknown soldier was laid to rest.
“When you look back at the history and you look at the dedication from 1921, especially the photos from 1921, you’ll see those photos show the American public gathered about the tomb. So we’re not going to allow the public to gather about the tomb but in a sense in a way to bridge the past to the present, we want to enable the public to approach the tomb and be closer to the tomb,” Lowe said.
Since then, two more unknowns were added, and the site has grown into a memorial visited by people from across the country.
Now on Nov. 9 and 10, visitors can see the grave of the three unknown servicemembers up close.
“That closeness creates connectedness, and we want the public to be connected with this place connected with this story,” Lowe said.
The event will happen rain or shine and the staff at Arlington National Cemetery is preparing for a large turnout.
Lowe says anyone is welcome to attend, and that this isn’t just for military families.
“It really is a part of America’s story. American history and we want everyone to take part in it,” Lowe said.
Arlington National Cemetery is encouraging people to register online, but the event itself is free. Click here to register.