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H.J. Res. 426, Joint Resolution providing for the bringing to the United States of the body of an unknown American . . . for the burial of the remains . . . , March 2, 1921

To carry out Congress’s resolution to create an Unknown Soldier memorial, four unknown World War I soldiers were randomly exhumed from four American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sergeant Edward F. Younger, a World War I veteran, chose one of the men for burial in the U.S. monument. The other three soldiers were reburied as unknowns in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in France.

Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, National Archives and Records Administration

H.J. Res. 426, Joint Resolution - Image 1 H.J. Res. 426, Joint Resolution - Image 2 H.J. Res. 426, Joint Resolution - Image 3

Honoring America’s Unknown Soldiers

After World War I, Congress wished to honor the more than 116,000 American soldiers who lost their lives in the war. Most were buried overseas, and hundreds remained unidentified or missing. Letters from the public begging for the return of loved ones’ remains and widespread news coverage of the French and British Unknown Soldier burials established after the war prompted Congress to pass a resolution in 1921 to develop an Unknown Soldier memorial in the United States.

I . . . had first-hand knowledge of the brave sacrifices made by American forces during the First World War, and I wanted America, as a beacon of freedom and democracy, to have her own memorial to honor the Unknown Soldier.

Representative Hamilton Fish of New York, Hamilton Fish: Memoir of an American Patriot, 1991