On November 10, 1921, the remains of the Unknown Soldier of World War I lain in state under the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Starting at 8 AM, the Rotunda opened to allow the public to pay their respects before the State Funeral commenced the following day. Over 90,000 people passed by the Unknown’s casket, with so many still waiting in line at 11 PM, visitation hours were extended through midnight. The casket rested on the Lincoln catafalque, the support built for President Lincoln’s funeral, and is used for all of those are granted the honor of lying in state under the Rotunda.
The previous day, the USS Olympia docked at the Washington Navy Yard with the Unknown Soldier’s remains aboard. The Unknown Soldier was transported on a horse-drawn caisson by members of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, based out of Fort Myer, VA, and conveyed to the Capitol. The procession route was “lined with sorrowing people standing bareheaded in silent tribute, regardless of the rain.”
On November 11, 1921, the third anniversary of the World War I armistice, the Unknown Soldier was laid to rest next to Arlington National Cemetery’s Memorial Amphitheater, just completed the previous year.
The Unknown Soldier’s remains were placed in the crypt atop two inches of French soil, brought back for the ceremony, amid wreaths and gifts bestowed by the Allied and even the Crow Nation, all to honor the Unknown Soldier.
Earlier this year, descendants of Thomas Cecil Scott, a clerk in the War Department’s Cemeterial Division, donated a history of the Unknown Soldier of World War I selection and State Funeral. The entire document can found here: