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The history behind the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

U.S. Army Sgt. Brian Pomerville (left) stands and salutes with his wife Tiffany Lee, both from Roanoke, Va., after placing flowers during a centennial commemoration event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Arlington, Va. (Alex Brandon/AP/Pool)
U.S. Army Sgt. Brian Pomerville (left) stands and salutes with his wife Tiffany Lee, both from Roanoke, Va., after placing flowers during a centennial commemoration event at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, in Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021, in Arlington, Va. (Alex Brandon/AP/Pool)

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At Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia Thursday morning, President Biden participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Visitors to the cemetery on Tuesday and Wednesday this week experienced a unique opportunity: They were allowed to lay flowers before the tomb.

It’s the first time in nearly a century that people were able to get that close to the memorial site, and the cemetery website noted that this is not likely to happen again in our lifetime.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is dedicated to the deceased U.S. service members whose remains have not been identified. And on Veterans Day 2021, the monument is 100 years old.

In 2018, longtime Here & Now producer Alex Ashlock went to Arlington to meet with historian Patrick O’Donnell. He’s author of “The Unknowns: The Untold Story Of America’s Unknown Soldier And WWI’s Most Decorated Heros Who Brought Him Home.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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