Visiting Arlington National Cemetery is an experience I would recommend to any American citizen. Overlooking our nation’s capitol, Arlington is the final resting place for American heroes, patriots, presidents, and other notable figures throughout our history. Among those laid to rest in Arlington are Presidents Kennedy and Taft, Governor Earl Warren, astronaut Capt. Pete Conrad, explorer Robert Peary, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and civil rights activist Medgar Evers.
For all of the statuary and solemnity that such a place exhibits and deserves, there is one grave that stands out as a place of reverence and respect…
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
Established in 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is the resting place of three unknown American soldiers… one from each of the wars; World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. While there had been one unknown from the Vietnam War, that body was later exhumed and identified through DNA as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. The Vietnam War crypt now remains vacant.
Guarded non-stop since July 1, 1937, the sentinels guarding the tomb are committed to the respect and reverence a place of such hallowed distinction deserves. From their 8 hours of uniform preparation prior to every shift, to the precision of every movement, to their unwavering dedication in the face of heat, cold, and inclement weather, these soldiers dedicate their time of service to the physical and symbolic protection of the Tomb.
Inscribed in the face of the sarcophagus are these words…
Here rests in honored glory
An American Soldier
Known but to God
You may ask, “So why all of the pomp and ceremony? Why all of the attention to some soldiers who we don’t even know their identity?”
It is because those who established the Tomb, as well as those who dedicate their lives to guarding it, understand that just because a soldier’s name is not known does not make him any less worthy of respect and honor. They understand that bravery and dedication as a soldier of our nation deserves to be recognized and revered in the highest way, even if the rest of the world doesn’t know their name.
In the Bible, the apostle Paul said…
But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. ~ I Corinthians 1:27-29
Maybe people consider you foolish because of what you believe. Maybe you are not the biggest or strongest warrior of the faith. Maybe you feel despised and even unknown. Maybe you do your task for the Kingdom in utter obscurity, pray in your quiet place, and live your life in quietness and peace.
You know what? You might not be a big deal (or even noticed) in the world, but God sees you. You might not be the one getting the recognition, but God is taking notice of your labors. You might not be getting cheers on this earth, but rest assured, you are receiving the applause of Heaven.
So take heart, you unknown soldier. Your labor is not in vain. Just remember…
The proud are opposed by God, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
Man may see your outward appearance, but God sees the attitude of your heart (I Samuel 16:7).
The mighty may inherit the battlefield, but the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).
Carry on, unknown soldier… you are known to God — and that is all that matters.