ASP Adjunct Fellow Adin Dobkin Featured in The Atlantic
ASP Adjunct Fellow Adin Dobkin’s recent article, “The Evolution of the Tomb of the Unknowns” was featured in the Atlantic. In his article, Dobkin discusses the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery and the purpose it serves in the historical memory of war and for those Americans whose lives were lost and went unidentified.
The article begins with a brief history on the Unknown of the Vietnam War, First Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie who had died when his aricraft exploded near an enemy-held territory flying outside An Lộc on the morning of May 11, 1972. Although Major James Connally spotted Blassie’s plane as it went down, recovery took nearly six months. It would take another 26 years before Blassie completed his odyssey from An Lộc, to the Tomb of the Unknown of the Vietnam War, to the Jefferson Barracks Memorial Cemetery near his childhood home of St. Louis, Missouri.
The Tomb of the Unknowns evolved after World War I when it was clear to the government that attempting to repatriate the bodies of soldiers to their families was not enough. Dobkin claims, that the nation needed something universal that could represent that final missing part of the process—a body. While tombs of the unknown had been established for some 2,000 people lost in the Civil War, the new creation would represent those who could never be brought back, much less identified.
Dobkin’s piece ends with a quote by Sergeant of the Guard Paul K. Basso, “today, the tomb and the unknown soldiers continue to serve their original purpose, and that’s important, but they also serve a whole new purpose for many Americans and the world.” To the author, the memorial symbolizes that although war losses may now be identifiable, they are no less poignant or profoundly grieved.
Click here to read the full article.