November 9, 2005
Contact: Jeff Schrade (202)224-9093

(Washington, DC) U.S. Senator Larry Craig, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, will attend Veterans Day ceremonies which will be held this Friday at Arlington National Cemetery. A wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Tomb of the Unknowns, followed by a ceremony in the Memorial Amphitheater.

"This is a high honor and I consider it a unique privilege to be able to witness this first hand," Craig said. "This is a sacred moment, to honor all those who have served and pay special homage to those who are known only to God."

Both the wreath-laying and Amphitheater ceremonies are free and open to the military community and general public. No tickets are needed to attend, but those who come must choose between the two locations. Reporters seeking to cover this event should call (703) 607-8574.

The events will commence with a prelude concert by the U.S. Air Force Band at 10:30 a.m. inside the amphitheater. At 11 a.m. Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to lay the wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown. Speeches will be given by the Vice President, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson, and American Legion National Commander Thomas L. Bock.

In 1921, the bodies of four unknown soldiers were exhumed from four World War I American cemeteries in France, and one was chosen to be the symbol for all unknown soldiers. On Nov. 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremonies for the Unknown Soldier at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery.

Thirty-four years later, in 1956 President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to select and pay tribute to the unknowns of World War II and Korea.

In 1984, President Reagan presided over the funeral for the Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam war, and presented the Medal of Honor to the Vietnam Unknown. But fourteen years later, the remains of the Vietnam Unknown were exhumed and, based on DNA testing, scientists identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972.

It has since been decided that the crypt that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain vacant.

There are now over 300,000 people buried at Arlington, including Revolutionary War heroes, former slaves, astronauts, presidents, Supreme Court justices, two Capitol Hill police officers killed in the line of duty, as well as veterans from all wars.