Selection of the Unknown Soldier – October 24, 1921

95 Years Ago Today

On October 24, 1921, the Unknown Soldier of World War I was selected in Chalons-sur-Marne, France, about 90 miles east of Paris. The remains of four soldiers killed in World War I were exhumed from four American cemeteries in France (Romagne, Thiacourt, Belleau, and Bony) and brought to Chalons.

The honor of selecting the Unknown Soldier fell to Sergeant Edward Younger, a veteran of World War I. Younger had been wounded twice in World War I and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for valor. Younger was one of six soldiers assigned to be pallbearers for the ceremony, but after learning the French selected an enlisted soldier for their Unknown Soldier selection process, the task went to Younger. Younger was instructed to lay a spray of white roses on the remains that would be interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

The selected remains were transported to Le Havre the next day. At Le Havre, the honor guard placed the remains aboard the USS Olympia for the ocean voyage to Washington, D.C.

Younger died in 1944 and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery (Section 18; Grave 1918-B). The USS Olympia is currently docked in Philadelphia, PA at the Independence Seaport Museum, where fundraising is underway for a restoration of the ship that first entered service in 1892.

For a full narrative of the events around the selection of the Unknown Soldier see the War Department Report on the Selection and Burial of the Unknown American Soldier:

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