Written by Rob Nieweg
In September 2007 the National Trust for Historic Preservation first raised the alarm that the Department of the Army intended to discard and replace the authentic Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery.
Thousands of Americans spoke out in favor of preservation and together we have successfully saved the hallowed Tomb of the Unknowns. After two and a half years of advocacy, we are very pleased to report that the cemetery has begun the work to restore rather than replace the original monument.
On April 20, 2010, the Department of the Army informed the National Trust that the long-awaited restoration the 1932 Tomb Monument at Arlington National Cemetery is underway and was expected to be completed by the end of April. "Last week, the grout was removed from the cracks and the mortar was raked from the joints. Sample cleaning tests were also performed, and a sample of grout was cured and inspected. ... The crack repairs are expected to start this week, weather permitting[.]" The public may follow the Tomb Monument repair work progress on the cemetery's website.
Finally, it's worth remembering that this historic preservation success would not have been possible without U.S. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia and Senator Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, who pressured the Department of the Army to preserve the tomb monument. In fact, it was Senator Akaka who said, "The commitment to restoring the authentic monument is consistent with the best of American traditions: We do not discard our national treasures. I applaud the Army and the Arlington National Cemetery for making the right decision."
Rob Nieweg is the director of the Southern Field Office at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.