Place a flower at the Tomb
An American Legion wreath made of 25,000 poppies was laid at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, Feb. 23, 2018. Photo by Justin T. Gellerson

Place a flower at the Tomb

For the first time in nearly 100 years, the public will be able to walk on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Plaza at Arlington National Cemetery, as part of the Tomb’s Centennial Commemoration.

The Public Flower Ceremony, to be held Nov. 9-10, will be free and open to the public and will allow them to personally pay their respects to the Unknown Soldier by laying flowers in front of him. This is a rare opportunity to walk next to the Tomb, a privilege otherwise given only to the sentinels of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, “The Old Guard.”

The hours to participate are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The flower ceremony will start on Nov. 9 at 8 a.m. with representatives from the Crow Nation placing flowers at the Tomb and reciting the prayer given 100 years ago by Chief Plenty Coups. Interpretive talks will be given from the Memorial Amphitheater west steps throughout the day. The ceremony will end on Nov. 10 at 4 p.m. with the original benediction recited by Army Chief of Chaplains Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem.

On Nov. 11, the public will be invited to observe a joint full honors procession (meant to replicate elements of the World War I Unknown Soldier’s 1921 funeral procession), and a joint service flyover (aerial review) with aircraft from all branches of the military. The public is invited to stand along a special procession route to participate.

Visitors are encouraged to bring their own flowers, but complimentary roses, gerbera daisies and sunflowers will be available. All visitors must have a government-issued ID for access. Registration is required at Eventbrite.