While events in the United States and Europe marked the 100th anniversary of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in October and November, some of these events were part of a pre-existing tribute that has crisscrossed the country for several years from his home in Georgia.
The National Exchange Club is a service organization founded in 1911. The Rome, Georgia Chapter, through its Americanism Committee, launched on Memorial Day 2015, a half-scale traveling replica of the tomb of the unknown soldier called “A Call to Honor.” “According to project manager Bill King, the replica was built based on photographs and dimensions obtained from Arlington National Cemetery.” It was built by Phillip Burkhalter Builders of Rome, who is owned by a member of our club It was built after their usual working hours.
The project lasted four months and used pine, composite materials, carbon fiber sheets, an aluminum frame, and retractable wheels. The work was hand sculpted by local artist Chuck Schmult. The large tomb and the plaques on the ground are included; donated flag lines and wreaths are also part of the displays.
“It is the hope of the Exchange Club of Rome and the National Exchange Club,” said King, “that the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform will never be forgotten, for without their supreme sacrifice of their lives, and in the case of strangers their identity, our way of life would not be possible.
Rick Hunt, Shanklin-Attaway American Legion Station 5 adjutant in Rome, said the replica of the grave appeared during a post-Veterans Day celebration at the grave of the known soldier. Pvt. Charles Graves was killed in action in 1918. After a first burial in France, his remains were brought home in 1922 and had been chosen as “America’s Known Soldier” for an accompanying monument planned in Arlington – and a funeral parade on Fifth Avenue in New York City before that – but his mother objected, and he reached his final abode in Rome on Armistice Day 1923.
Local organizations can request an “A Call to Honor” tour by contacting King at (706) 766-8451 Where [email protected]. He says of the American Legion posts: “In some cases the posts have co-sponsored or participated in opening ceremonies and wreath laying, and it was great to have them involved. ”
See a calendar of events here. Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, legionary Jeffrey Unger organized the construction of a more local replica; read this story on Legiontown.