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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

From Academic Kids

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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe, Paris

In World War I, huge numbers of soldiers died without their remains being identified. The practice developed for nations to have a symbolic Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that represented the war grave of those unidentified soldiers.

They usually contain the remains of a dead soldier who is unidentified, and is thought to be impossible to ever identify. Much work goes into trying to find a certain soldier, and to verify that it is indeed one of the relevant nation's soldiers. The United Kingdom first buried an Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey in 1920, leading other nations to follow their example. Although memorials to unknown soldiers of previous wars (such as the 1866 memorial to the unknown dead of the American Civil War) predate the Westminster Abbey one, it started the current trend. The most famous tomb is that in France under the Arc de Triomphe that was installed in 1921 honoring the unknown dead of the First World War.

These tombs are also used to commemorate the unidentified fallen of later wars. Although monuments have been built as recently as 1982 in the case of Iraq, it is unlikely that any further ones will be constructed. Advances in DNA technology mean that even the tiniest fragment of bone is usually identifiable.

National Examples

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