Help Save the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National CemeteryTomb of the Unknown Soldier
It's hard to believe, but officials at Arlington National Cemetery plan to replace the original Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with a new replica solely because of repairable cosmetic imperfections. This 1932 monument is nationally significant and eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.
The 48-ton marble block has two nonstructural cracks which pose no threat to visitors or the historic structure. Surprisingly, federal administrators want the replica carved from new stone that experts agree will likely again crack along its grain just as marble does naturally when exposed to the elements. Repair and proper care of the Tomb (re-grouting the cracks and using only gentle cleaning methods instead of high-pressure power-washing) is possible and is the preferred method for fixing the existing cracks, as other marble monuments such as the Lincoln Memorial were repaired.
Stone preservation expert Mary Oehrlein explained this method of restoration to the staff of the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 13, 2007, saying, "The existing monument can easily be repaired, as was done 17 years ago, using conventional conservation methods to re-grout the cracks. Once repaired, the fault lines would be virtually invisible from the public viewing areas." (Read more of Ms. Oerhlein's comments to the committee staff here.)
Once the National Trust learned about the ill-considered replacement plan, we raised the alarm with Members of Congress and tried to consult with those who administer the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In response to our concerns and your advocacy efforts, the Senate adopted an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 (H.R. 1585) sponsored by Senator Akaka (D-HI) and cosponsored by Senator Webb (D-VA) that would delay any hasty action and require a report to be submitted to Congress on the plans for replacing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The bill is still being debated and awaits full passage in the upcoming weeks.
Although the Senate amendment is a tremendous step forwarded in helping to save the Tomb Monument, your help is needed now to weigh in with decision-makers to help save the memorial.
Contact John Metzler, superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery and ask him to repair rather than replace the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Make a donation to support this campaign.
© 2007 National Trust for Historic Preservation. http://www.nationaltrust.org