100th year Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
by Rebecka Hoyt, Editor & Photographer
This Veterans Day, November 11, 2021 marks the 100th year anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. At 5pm the Auxiliary American Legion-Buchanan Post 51 had a special speaker, Stuart Aspinall, who was a former old guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, that spoke about his time serving at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and some history on the tomb.
Stuart Aspinall from Grand Haven, MI of the Army as SGT (his highest rank) guarded the tomb from June 2018 – March 2020. Stuart’s positions included: Assistant Relief Commander (1st relief), Assistant Sergeant of the Guard, and Sentinel. He started his presentation with history on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The first soldier is from WWI in 1920 when France and Englad interred their unknown soldiers. Then in 1921 the process started with the U.S. four unknown soldiers. An interesting fact: the unknown soldier’s next of kin was the United States President. The U.S. President for the WWII next of kin was Eisenhower; and then for the Korean War: Nixon; Vietnam War was Reagan.
If you have ever been to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, it’s very humbling. I was able to experience it on a mission trip way back in the summer of 1998 with my youth group. So, I knew about the tomb, but then I gained some more knowledge this evening. Here are three flaws on the tomb that you may not know about:
- There is a natural crack in the marble that is wrapped 1 & ½ times around the tomb.
- In the word “HONORED,” the letters “R” and “E” are touching each other.
- On the north side of the tomb, there is a chipped leaf on a wreath that has 38 leaves. Stuart has not been able to find it.
Each guard has to take care of their uniform and shoes. They wear many layers in many kinds of weather. Shining their shoes takes three hours. They can not use any powered tools, all by hand. At the end of his presentation, there was some time for questions and there were many. I asked, “What was the coldest temperature he had been in while guarding the tomb?” Stuart responded with, “-5°F to -10°F below zero windchill!”
Stuart and his wife have an 18 month-old son that keeps him busy as a stay-at-home-Dad. American Legion Elected National Executive Committee Alternate Larry Money presented Stuart with a $1,000 check from a “Big supporter, Southwestern Michigan College to support the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Four Winds Casino wants your family to enjoy this $100.”
Just before the presentation started, Honor Credit Union Buchanan Member Center Manager, Christy Lyman and Community Assistant Vice President, Karol Behrle presented the Auxiliary American Legion-Buchanan Post 51 with a $550 check to purchase a new flag to replace the existing flag at the Veterans Memorial Park. This is right across from the Buchanan Honor Credit Union Member Center on N. Redbud Trail.
Earlier in the day, up at the Bluff in St. Joseph, MI, Stuart participated in the DAR Annual Veterans Day wreath laying ceremony in tribute to the 100th Anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from 1921 – 2021.
About the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, Rebecca Dewey Chapter: The Rebecca Dewey Chapter, NSDAR, Three Oaks, Michigan, was organized July 9, 1909, with a membership of seventeen. It was chartered December 21, 1909, with fourteen members. Since Three Oaks had secured the Dewey Cannon at the close of the Spanish-American War, it was decided to name the Chapter after Admiral Dewey’s great grandmother. Rebecca Dewey Chapter NSDAR currently has 30 Members.