Welcome Remarks for Here Rests in Honored Glory: Records Related to Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown, Pt 2
Greetings from the National Archives’ flagship building in Washington, DC, which sits on the ancestral lands of the Nacotchtank peoples. I’m David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, and it's my pleasure to welcome you to today’s discussion on records in the National Archives relating to Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
In this second part of our two-part presentation, Arlington National Cemetery historian Allison Finkelstein and National Archives archivists John Deeben, Eric Kilgore, Lauren Theodore, and Eric Van Slander, will discuss textual records—the written word.
I want to thank the Arlington National Cemetery and historians Stephen Carney, Allison Finkelstein, and Timothy Frank for partnering with us on these presentations, and for their tireless support in our efforts to preserve and protect the records about the Tomb and make them accessible for education and historical research.
I also want to acknowledge and thank the National Archives staff involved for their hard work and dedication in making these presentations a reality.
Before we begin, though, I’d like to tell you about two upcoming programs you can view on our YouTube channel.
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On Wednesday, September 29, at 1 p.m., author Andrew O’Shaughnessy will be joined by University of Maryland history professor Holly Brewer to discuss O’Shaughnessy’s latest book, The Illimitable Freedom of the Human Mind: Thomas Jefferson’s Idea of a University.
And on Wednesday, October 6, at 1 p.m., Jonathan White will discuss his book, To Address My Friend, a collection of more than 120 letters from African Americans to Abraham Lincoln, most of which have never before been published.
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One hundred years ago this November, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb and the cemetery honor the service and sacrifice of more than 400,000 members of our nation’s Armed Forces and their next-of-kin who are buried there. As a veteran myself, I am pleased and honored to introduce today's panel discussion.
Our written records relating to Arlington Cemetery are rich, diverse, and expansive.
Today you will see and hear of many examples, including Civil War–era records that document the formation of the cemetery which was to become Arlington National Cemetery in 1864.
You will hear about records of the design and construction for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and Memorial Amphitheater, and follow the journey from the selection of the Unknown from the those fallen on the battlefields of France, to the ceremonial arrival at Arlington National Cemetery, to the later choice to place the guards at the Tomb in November 1921.
You will also learn about 1st Lieutenant Michael Blassie from documents in his Official Military Personnel File. Blassie was killed in action during the Vietnam War and interred as the Unknown of that conflict. In 1998, using DNA analysis, his remains were identified and re-interred in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.
The records of Arlington Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier provide deeper historical context to the people, places, and events of our past. We invite you to explore our records and contact us if you have any questions as you embark on your process of research and discovery.
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Our moderator for today’s discussion is Allison Finkelstein, who is senior historian at Arlington National Cemetery. Her first book, Forgotten Veterans, Invisible Memorials, How American Women Commemorated the Great War, 1917–1945, was published by the University of Alabama Press last month. A specialist on World War I, she served as the Chair of the Arlington County World War I Commemoration Task Force.
Now let’s turn to Allison Finkelstein to get our program started. Thank you for joining us.