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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: You seem to have answers to just about everything, so I'm wondering if you can help me on this:

When was the Unknown Soldier buried in Washington, D.C.? Also, in which branch of the military was he? In which war did he fight? How was he identified? Was the soldier a male or a female?

Thanks for any information you can give me. -- LILLIE NORRIS, HUGO, OKLA.

DEAR LILLIE NORRIS: When World War I ended, officials from the Allied countries -- Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy and the United States -- found that the bodies of many soldiers killed in battle could not be identified. The governments decided to honor the memory of those soldiers in some special way. Each government chose a symbolic unknown soldier (probably male since females were not sent into battle at that time), buried the remains near their national capitol, and built a monument in honor of that soldier.

Belgium placed its unknown soldier in a tomb at the base of Colonnade of the Congress in Brussels.

France buried its unknown soldier beneath the Arc de Triomphe in the center of Paris, and keeps a perpetual flame burning over the grave.

Great Britain buried its unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey.

Italy's unknown soldier lies in front of the monument to Victor Emmanuel in Rome.

The unknown soldier of the United States was one of four unidentified war dead taken from American cemeteries in France. An American soldier, Sgt. Edward Younger, selected the soldier from these four. The remains were brought to the U.S. Capitol to lie in state.

On Armistice Day, Nov. 11, 1921, the soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The tomb, completed in 1931, has a white marble sarcophagus over the grave and bears the inscription, "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God."

Congress later directed that an unknown soldier from each of three wars -- World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War -- be buried near or beside the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The World War II and Korean War unknown soldiers were buried in marble crypts at the head of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on Memorial Day in 1958. The unknown soldier from the Vietnam War was buried between them.

A memorial amphitheater, built by the Grand Army of the Republic to honor members of the armed forces killed in battle, stands near the tomb. Memorial Day services are held there each year.

An honor guard from the Honor Guard Co. of the 1st Battle Group, 3rd Infantry, Fort Myer, Va., keeps a sentry on duty at the tomb at all times. The sentry is changed every hour during the day and about every two hours at night.

Today we honor all those who have given their lives in the line of duty -- on land, at sea and in the air.

God speed the day when we can settle our differences with words instead of bombs and gunfire. Only then we can claim to be truly civilized.

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