Tributes to fallen soldiers can be found throughout the world and they are often somber and sobering experiences. Memorials to unknown soldiers are particularly impactful and are often accompanied with special ceremonies. The tradition started at the end of WWI with both England and France creating their own versions of the tombs. Although there are ones in other countries such as Canada, Egypt, Belgium, and Iraq, we have had the opportunity to see this fitting tributes in the United States, France, Greece, Italy, and England. It is important to remember the sacrifices made by those who gave their lives to provide the freedom that we all hold precious.
Arlington Cemetery – Located in Northern Virginia, just across the Potomac river from Washington DC, is Arlington Cemetery. It is the site of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as well and is also the final resting place for thousands of veterans and the location of the Eternal Flame that sits at the head of John F. Kennedy’s grave. Seeing the changing of the guards is truly a fascinating experience and is a great honor for the soldiers who participate.
Arc de Triomphe – Sitting in the heart of Paris, France is the Arc de Triomphe and located underneath the arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI and the eternal flame that burns in the memory of those who died and were never identified. We happened to visit on a cold and rainy day, which almost added to the mood that the memorial invokes. With all of the major avenues leading to the arc, it is a fitting location for such a tribute.
Altare della Patria – At the base of a statue of the Goddess Roma at the Altare della Patria in Rome, Italy can be found the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the eternal flame. Translated to the Altar of the Fatherland is also the location of a museum and a viewing platform on its roof with spectacular views of the city. It is certainly an awe inspiring location to visit in a city with such a rich history.
Syntagma Square – Located in the square just outside of the Parliament building in Athens, Greece is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At 11:00 am daily, there is the changing of the guards, but if you want the full pageantry that the ceremony has to offer, you should attend on Sunday when it is more colorful and elaborate. It is an experience that will not soon be forgotten as the soldiers make dramatic motions as they march into their locations.
Westminster Abbey – Inside of Westminster Abbey in London, England is the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. The grave is covered with a black marble stone that has an inscription by the Dean of Westminster engraved with brass that was melted down from ammunition on it. We were not able to take photographs inside of the abbey, so we don’t have any images to share of this particular tomb.
All of these monuments are well worth visiting, especially if there is a significant ceremony at the location. Each of them have many similarities, but are also unique in their own ways. We definitely recommend putting them on your itinerary when visiting any of these locations.