Thursday, August 28, 2008

Senator Akaka helps save the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in Washington D.C.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Tomb Update

UPDATE: Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers

Report Delivered to Congress: Cemetery Officials Commit to Repair, But Preservationists Must Remain Vigilant

I am pleased to report that last fall, thousands of you responded to our call to urge the Superintendent of Arlington National Cemetery and Congress to “repair, not replace” the Tomb of the Unknowns in response to non-structural cracks in the marble face of the monument.

Your voices were heard and in January 2008, Congress, led by Senator Jim Webb and Senator Daniel Akaka, mandated that a report be prepared laying out all the options for the Tomb including repair. That report from the Department of the Army, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Arlington National Cemetery, was delivered to Congress on August 11th.

In the report, federal officials have agreed to properly repair the Tomb in the immediate future, which is a dramatic turn-around from their previous position and a direct result of the action of preservationists, veterans, and other concerned citizens. THANK YOU!

While we were elated to learn that repair is in the offing, we remain very concerned about the long-term future of the historic Tomb, which is the only national monument to soldiers killed in World War I and one of our country’s most important war memorials.

Why? Because decision-makers at the Cemetery continue to seriously consider replacement of the authentic Tomb as a possible “long term” strategy, according to the report. Astonishingly, they continue to pursue this misguided approach even after their own analysis concludes that replacing the Tomb with a replica would:

-Significantly harm the historic character of Arlington National Cemetery and
-Cost exponentially more than restoring the Tomb: a whopping $2.2 million compared to $65,000 for repair.

National Trust staff now is preparing our detailed response to the report, which we received on August 14th, and you should be assured that we will continue our efforts to protect the Tomb as the federal historic preservation review process moves forward. If you would like to read the report to Congress, you can access it at

How can you help? Take action today!

  • Forward this email to a friend or colleague. The more people who know about the situation in Arlington National Cemetery, the better our chances for negotiating the best short-term AND long-term solution.
  • Send an email thanking your Senator on the Armed Services Committee for requesting the report. Without their action, we have no doubts the Tomb would have been lost.
  • Read this article about the Tomb on CNN and leave a comment in support of its preservation.

Thanks so much for your support. For more information on the Tomb of the Unknowns and other news from the preservation movement, visit PreservationNation.

National Trust for Historic Preservation