tv The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier CSPAN July 22, 2018 11:00am-12:01pm EDT
what i can tell you is that the people are going to do everything to make sure that it's good for as long as there is oil during --. tour staffour city recently traveled to alaska to learn about its rich history. learn more about alaska and other stops on our tour at /citiestour. tv all watching american weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. up next on american history tv, military historian patrick o'donnell talks about his book "the unknowns, the untold story of america's unknown soldier and world war i's most decorated heroes who brought him home." a chronicle the combat stories of the 8 men who were escorting the unknown soldier' remains. sit is about one hour. >> military records in the
theonal archives document actions of individuals and a number of other records testify to the great sacrifice, death and combat. it is the resting place of more than 400,000 people including nearly 5000 unknown soldiers. 1921, the tomb of the unknown soldier was chosen to represent all those who have died without being identified. the soldier of world war i was laid to rest with a ceremony attended by the highest ranks of military and civilian leaders. the film and our motion picture holdings documents the progress of that soldier's remains from france to the united states and the newly built tomb of the unknown soldier. the ceremonies of the u.s. capital where the unknown line as the soldier's father fills
the role of the nearest relative. along the way from france to the final resting place, 8 men personally selected accompanied the body of the unknown. we will learn the story of those 8 bearers and their hero is among the battlefield. patrick o'donnell is a best-selling, critically acclaimed military historian and expert. he is the author of 11 books including washington's immortals, we were one, and he is the recipient of several national awards. he speaks often on espionage, special operations, and insurgency. he has provided historical consulting for dreamworks, award-winning miniseries "band of brothers" and document or is produced by the history channel and foxnews and discovery.
just to review a couple of snippets of reviews on this book from wall street journal, mr. o'donnell relates both the history of the unknown soldier and the story of america's part in world war i through these soldiers experiences. today, a gripping story by mr. o'donnell, one of the best military historians of his generation. few authors have the same kind of enthusiasm and gusto that o'donnell brings to his writing. ladies and gentlemen, please help me welcome patrick o'donnell. [applause] >> it is really quite an honor to be introduced by the archivist of the united states. here atover two decades the national archives research and 11 books from the american revolution all the way to the unknowns, right here in this building.
several of the stories about the navy body bearers were drawn from the research at the national archives. i'm really honored by all the individuals that are here today. who came to support the unknowns, especially many of the former tomb guards. i would like to recognize paul, former sergeant of the guards as well as richard asaro. if you could please stand. these are some of america's finest. thank you so much for your service. also, many of my other friends are here and my family. my mom and dad, i really appreciate your support over the years. books, in all 11 of those books you have found me in one way or another and what i mean by that is not a cliche. the story finds me. , i waston's immortals
walking with the battalion a tomb,r and we found maryland heroes buried in a mass grave in maryland, in brooklyn somewhere. and i wanted to know the back story of that story. it is history in plain sight, the unknown is no different. i was given the opportunity to for thede in france fifth marines and later the wounded warrior regiment. and as we walked the battleground, the hallowed ground which happened exactly 100 years ago to this day, where the marine corps and the second division helps save paris, they stopped the german drive. we look around the news and there is very little talk about -- it is the reason why i wrote the unknowns. the unknown generation. it's a forgotten generation that
changed the world. there is still mustard gas in tuned in some of the hardwood trees, the land is scarred by world war i. and i was joined by some of the brothers that i was with and it was quite striking, the generations had met in one place it was a situation where volusia nearly killed all of us, where the former ottoman empire was directly in result of that. that meeting of wonder,ons that made me and then i found out that ernest andsen made an epic charge as we walked up to hill 142, this is the high ground new double wood. it was crucial. 1918arines on june 6, charged across a wheat field
under heavy machine-gun fire. as they charged in civil war formation because they were ordered to by the french, it was a bloodbath. many of these men drop from machine-gun bullets, they kept charging, they kept making their way toward hill 142. and for -- unbelievably, they were able to take out a position held by a battalion of germans. and they saved the hill. and against all odds, they seized that hill. within 20 minutes thing you'll was coming next, a german this book is a band of brothers. the body bearers in this book and the story of the unknown soldier brace for the counterattack, janssen saw in the distance nearly a dozen camouflage helmets making their way up toward his position, setting up several machine guns on heavy sleds.
he knew if they were able to set those up, they would sweep the hill and take it. he let out a bloodcurdling cry and charged forward and stop the attack and disrupted the entire attack and potentially save the hill. he was theions, first medal of honor recipient for the marine corps and he was and when idy bearer found that out, i wanted to know who the other men were. it was at that point, the unknowns found me. i spent years uncovering their story which is an untold story. it's an untold story within multiple untold stories. hidden in plain sight. the tomb itself has an incredible history, but it is history in plain sight. it is the back story behind the tomb. who or the people selected to bring back the remains? all of these stories are woven into a single story, a narrative
history that is very cinematic, that brings you to world war i through the eyes of the men, the most decorated and listed men of the war who saw some of the toughest action. battle,y every major heeral pershing, when selected his 8 body bearers, selected individuals from the army, the navy, and the marine corps. that, he selected individuals from the common specializations of the combat engineers, for instance. and these are guys that build things. they blew things up and in the case of thomas saunders, a native american, it was some of the most difficult assignments of the war to breach the wire with only a pair of wire cutters, making a hole to allow the rest of the infantry to go through. you have the cavalry, it's hard
to believe but there were mounted troops in france and one , harrygreat stories taylor who was practically born in the saddle, a cowboy that was raised in wyoming. and taylor fought with the first , was involved in numerous conflicts and found himself in france training men of the 91st position, the wild west division, who makes an epic charge, a suicide charge in the argon, one of america's bloodiest battles. onee is also the infantry, of america's most decorated doughboys. guns, this iseavy a forgotten aspect of world war i. there were rail guns in france and heavy artillery. and one of the body bearers is represented there.
the field artillery, a forgotten branch in many ways. these are men who, in most cases, artillery pieces that moved up with the infantry. in some cases, they were in combat with the infantry. they moved up and provided close artillery support at the infantry advance. this is the story that is in the unknowns. pershing was trying to be very comprehensive in the way that he told the story of world war i through the eyes of these men. and of course, there is the extraordinary story of the tomb itself. and how the unknown was selected. and i saw a chicagoan, a doughboy through the entire war. and younger was part of the second infantry decision, an elite unit within the american
expeditionary forces that fights in some of the greatest battles of the war. and younger is there. he is a doughboy, irregular grunt, a sergeant that fights from battle to battle. he is wounded twice very severely, and i will get into the story of how he is selected, it's quite extraordinary. and then there is the story of how all these men and individuals come together. here in washington, d.c. first, on november 9, 1921. and then they bring the most extraordinary individual, the unknown soldier to his final resting place in arlington, virginia. let me go back a little bit in time and talk about some of these body bearers. this book is about stories. it's about extraordinary stories, about an extraordinary individuals that, in many cases, did the impossible. and i mean, what you will see in
individuals that had to overcome extreme hardship. i'm talking about gas, persistently, all the time as they fought. bodies that were covered with as they mites and fought through combat, they weren't able to change their uniforms. they also had to battle and fight the greatest army in the world at the time, the german army. but let me go back in time to 1970. -- 1917. when america went from an army of 220,000 regulars to an army of over 4 million strong at the end of the war. it's an extraordinary story of growth in a time of great need. and we mobilized.
one part of the story is a forgotten story, and that is the story of the navy in world war i. the american navy in world war i. wilson had aident real threat on his hands. german boats were sinking american ships at an alarming rate. even before we entered world war i, there was a decision made to bring naval guards onboard merchant ships. to armed them with typically five inch guns and give the merchant ship a crew of about 15 naval personnel. these were known as naval guards. one of those individuals james delaney. was a tough irish men from as -- massachusetts, his body was inked. he had been serving since 18. his life was the navy and he was given command of a naval crew on the uss -- the ss compatible --
ss compana. their journey in the summer of 1917 had been going pretty well and they wereer making their way back to the united states and all of the sudden, a torpedo nearly hit the ship. it was then quickly followed by artillery fire. the men manned their guns and began to respond. expert,was crude by an iekmannant captain d who had sunk nearly 40 naval ships and now his prey was the uss compana. delaneyining -- james went into action and they started to fire on the boat. but the captain, he was quite knowledgeable and had sunk many allied ships.
he widely stayed out of range of the guns but what ensued was a cat and mouse chase for hours. both sides fired their guns at each other, as the compana tried to flee. roundslly, boat 61's were able to hit the side, one near the engine compartment. men were firing so many rounds that they're in your drums began to bleed but they ran out of ammunition and several of the shells struck the compana. captain oliver, a new yorker, decides to strike his colors and surrender his vessel. they go right by the actual , nearly wiped them out they go so close to it. but i have a boarding party that goes aboard the comp
ana. they set several charges, but before they do that, they raid the food locker on board, life on board the submarine was very harsh. they only had 10 goods or whatever they can bring aboard was the journey began. the journey was also dirty and filthy, the engines on board let insideot of greece and the boat, literally condensation would be inside the boat and it wouldn't get on the men's clothes, in their coffee and their food, everything. remarkably, the first thing that they did when they went on board was look for soap and they went and tried to clean themselves off and they also look for anything of intelligence value and they detonated the ship and sank it. and at that point, the men including james to any -- james
delaney were brought aboard uboat 61. and the captain is a remarkable figure. he speaks perfect english and begins to question james. and here is a meeting of two men. -- i wouldn't say there is a friendship formed, but there is a mutual respect for, including a respect with the crew. james'crewthe men, and his men and your -- endure what the men in the boat endure. if you have ever seen the movie dasboat, this is a world war i dos boat. and the men of 61 are depth- charged, they endure what is literally a-boat,
merchant ship that the allies have that is actually a warship. it is designed to basically reveal hidden guns and attack the u-boat. they go through a minefield, an extraordinary story . i won't tell the entire story, but i will tell you that at the end of the voyage, both crews lined up for a photo and what james did not know and the other americans that day, was that boat 61's crew were all walking dead men because within a matter of weeks, they would never be seen again. this is a powerful story inside the unknown. unearth, me years to including here, some of these stories were found here in the national archives.
is the incredible story story of the 49th company of the marine corps. the helmet next to me is not the secondt also 25, battalion fifth marines. beginstory really exactly 100 years ago to this day. onentioned the epic charge june 6, this was in a world war has everhat nobody heard about practically unless you are in the marine corps or you are a world war i buff. this is where the marine corps advanced across several fields under heavy machine-gun fire. what happened before that was quite extraordinary. the germans launched a major paris and they were breaking through the french
lines, literally the french army , the archivesay talk about how it was like water on a hot iron, it was evaporating. the french army was evaporating. company and 49th the marines from the fifth and sixth regiment as well of the second division were all being trucked as quickly as possible along with a third division of the u.s. army into the vortex of battle to hold the line at all costs. these were some of the only reserve units of the time and they were, in many cases, super divisions. the u.s. divisions were about twice the size of the french division and sometimes even more -- much larger than a german division. they were quickly rushed to the front and as they were in their trucks, they sought french civilians passing them by as well as members of the french
army. some throwing down their weapons saying that the war is over. and iten push forward was here that lloyd williams from 25, the men set up behind the french army. and a decision was made by colonel preston brown, the chief of staff of the second division. the french wanted to immediately commit, thrust them into the line. and he insisted that they be able to dig in the hind the foxholes andallow prepare a small defensive line which potentially help save the war. because the marines were ready of the germans advancing across the wheatfields, the french were fleeing. loreding to marine corps
as well as other documents, lloyd williams was confronted with this dilemma and he said retreat? we just got here. and they began to fire with rifles. most marines were marksmen. they were able to take down the germans as they advanced across the wheat. on june 6, the allies go on to attack. the french order them to push forward, the 49th company which i followed through the entire war, is advancing through the wheatfields to the first objective, which is hill 142. they seized the hill against all odds and many of these men are killed of the crop the wheatfield. jensen isthe hill, badly wounded but survives and is able to disrupt the attack and then his men fight.
the 49th company fights through the entire war. they are in the major battles. -- it takesh after about three weeks to clear the wood and what happens is a newspaper reporter is with the marines in the field as they advance. buts shot through the eye before he goes, he writes his report. -- it is actually for bid and to provide any kind of designation of who is in the held but the sensors believe is killed on the field. wounded, they don't know if he is actually alive, they believe he is dead. thisey say ok, we will let report go through, which identifies the marine corps. and all the sudden, the papers now read that the marine corps have saved france and paris.
of course, the army out well. but it creates a sensation, it goes viral. what happens is instead of just a local attack, takes on national significance. the germans see the papers and they rush their best units to try to crush the marine corps. and over the course of three weeks, there is very heavy fighting and casualties but ultimately, the marine corps and the army prevail. and the 49th company continues at avance and they fight turning point in world war i where the allies go on the counterattack and they are able to turn the tide of battle. the germans, the war is changing. the 49th fight through another
battle where the americans go on --rue offensive to take down several of the body bearers are involved in the same battle. one of my favorite stories in this book is a forgotten battle that the marine corps often, one of the bloodiest battles, in some cases more than june 6. it was a place where the french army insisted that they take the second division to somehow sees a fortress. -- somehow seize a fortress. the face of the mountain is white, white mountain. inte mountain was deceptive the fact that it was arranged with hundreds of machine-gun artillery positions for over 3.5 years, the french army had tried to take this fortress, nothing
worked. there were bodies littered all over the place. there was an attack only days earlier, the french army fails to try to take it. the second in division as well as the 49th company of the marine corps. here was also another member of this book, edward younger, the chicagoan. and all of these body bearers, many of them converged on the field artillery. the combat engineers, the infantry. the stories all converge as they attack this seemingly impregnable position. mile ofe to go across a open ground, the bodies of the french are littering the area. they literally go by one of the likeions which was shaped an arrow, it is all dead frenchmen.
at the tip is a frenchmen with a beard, and large frenchmen who has his eyes wide open with his bayonet pointed at the germans in horror. they passed them and they continued to attack and is a remarkable story. seize on the first day and go over the ridge of the next day and continue to fight in a position known as the box. it was the natural kill zone that the germans had created and of none of the 49th company were stuck in this position, they were shelled mercilessly with high explosives, machine-gun bullets pelted down and gas. and they were in this position as they tried to attack the german line. story's an extraordinary of heroism encourage when in many cases, they are outnumbered.
eventually, the physician is consolidated and one of my body american, isnative pushing to the line as a scout and he scouts up into the early position to penetrate the wire again . but these are just some of the stories in the book, i think saunders is an extraordinary story. french -- at the attack where he has to go .gainst native americans were unfortunately subject to many of the stereotypes in world war ii. they were amazing warriors. they were given some of the most difficult combat assignments.
saunders was not the exception. he was given the assignment of also in this position but as a wire cutter, to cut the use these small handheld wire cutters to breach a hole in the going back a month at san miguel, he was told to breach the wire there across no man's land. i can't imagine this, going across no man's land alone with maybe a partner, one man, and they were given the wire cutters to cut a hole, this forlorn hope to breach a hole in the wire. they make it through the wire, and they are the closest, they advance further than any other allied troops. they keep pushing forward, and
they were able -- it is quite extraordinary. they make it to a german headquarters position in a castle, deep behind german lines. they are able to capture 63 german soldiers single handedly through their efforts. these are the stories that are in the unknowns. i will talk about one more story in the book, and that is the story of charles lee o'connor who is also with the navy. charles lee o'connor is given one of the lowliest jobs, a water tender on the uss mount vernon. the mount vernon is a captured german jet vessel. in world war i we had very little american shipping. it was diminished. it was almost at civil war levels in some cases. there was a great need for shipping. we needed to take the american troops and army over to france.
there was a race to quickly build ships, but another thing that is curious that isn't really documented in many places is there were a number of german vessels that tried to find safe harbor in the united states at the beginning. they knew the united states was a neutral nation. they were afraid of france and england's navies that they crossed the atlantic, so they tried to find safe harbor in the united states. one of those was the ss crown prince cassell. it was a german vessel that was nearly the size of the titanic. it was an ocean liner, but the german vessel also had a hidden secret. it was carrying millions of dollars of gold bullion from germany. they captured -- the ship goes into bar harbor, maine, and it is seized by the government.
the crew and passengers are returned. for a year the ship languishes, and it is too tempting of a target. the ship is seized along with all the gold. the ship is renamed the uss mount vernon, a navy ship, troop transport. charles lee o'connor is assigned to the ship. mx multiple -- it makes multiple voyages across the atlantic. in september 1918, they are making the fifth or sixth across here they are carrying troops from the american expeditionary force that are wounded. they are carrying a congressman, but they are also carrying the plague, influenza is running rampant across the decks of the uss mount vernon. things look good in the sense they have somewhat contained the virus even though many of the crew members are falling victim to it.
the voyage looks good on the way back. they never had any hostile activity until this point, then that morning, there is a rainbow. to the experienced mariners of the mount vernon, it is an ominous sign. literally sure enough an hour later, a torpedo slams into the side of the mount vernon, rupturing a massive hole in the boiler where charles lee o'connor is tending the boilers. he is shoveling coal. his body -- mountain of a man, massive, big, built, shoveling coal every day in this hot furnace like hellish environment of the mount vernon. thousands, tens of thousands of gallons of water are rushing in to the compartment. his body is nearly burned alive by the boiler, the cinders coming out. he is being hit by massive
amounts of water. he has got to make a split-second decision. there are men inside the compartment. there is water tight door that needs to be closed. does he save his life, does he save the men in the compartment, or does he save his ship? that is the dilemma i will leave you with. [laughter] patrick: you will have to read the book. but these men all come together. they come together on the field of battle and in some cases the final night of the war four of these body bearers come together. they also come together november 9, 1921, to bring back the remains of the unknown soldier. the unknown soldier in world war i and our unknown soldier is not our own concept.
france and england were the first. and in 1921 they established tombs of the unknown soldiers to honor all that had fallen. it was an opportunity to recognize all that had fallen. it was an opportunity to provide closure for those nations and the sacrifices they had made. we did not have one in the united states. there was a hope all 2200 americans unidentified or unknown could be identified. the army blissfully believed that was possible. it was not until 1920 that an editor from a very popular women's magazine, marie maloney, who was the editor of the delineater, suggested we need an unknown soldier, representing all those who have fallen from the american revolution to world
war i to provide closure. it is about who we are as americans. she was able to convince the war department but also she created a movement. the new york times picked up on the story, the ap, and a young congressman named hamilton fish from new york city, who was a white officer in what was known as the harlem hell fighters, a segregated unit that fought bravely and heroically in france, fish decided it was time to recognize his men and all of those who had fallen in world war i and spearheaded a campaign to get through the tomb of the unknown soldier. got through the funding and the bill. president wilson signed it. year goes by, it is 1921. the four major cemeteries in france which contain unknown soldiers, the remains are
removed from each of the cemeteries. at belleau wood, at san miguel, where saunders and all the others fought, at the meuse-argonne, the somme, the four remains are removed, they are checked to make sure there are no dogtags, letters, diaries, anything to identify these individuals. then at that point that registration people burned the tickets that revealed where these individuals were actually removed from, so it is impossible to identify who these individuals are. the four remains are brought back to another place in france where a french honor guard greets them along with other dignitaries. they are placed in city hall. they are flag draped, and there
is a procession. the next day, the unknown will be selected. the plan is initially to have a general officer from the united states to make the selection, the last second though, the french say, we use the regular grunt, a man that just had been through the trenches, that had been through this hell. there were six men escorting the body tonight including edward younger from chicago. each of these men had revealed their records of service during the war, and that night edward younger was selected to choose the unknown soldier. he woke up that morning and had this awesome responsibility on his shoulders. the man that had been through the ninth infantry near voe,
near belleau wood the attack, the final day of the war where they crossed the river, this doughboy that had seen it all was given a bouquet of white roses. chopin's funeral dirge was playing in the background. the floor of the room was littered with white petals, and edward f. younger slowly walked into the room and nervously wasn't sure who to select. he made a quick prayer. i found the original notes and typewritten account at the national archives and personnel records center, which reveals exactly what he felt and how he felt as he walked nervously in between the caskets. he looked at the flag and said, that was sublime. his hand, his hand was guided
towards one casket. it was an almost immovable action. he was guided there. he felt the man in the casket was somebody he went over the top with, knew that man. at that point the selection was made. the body was moved to le havre, france, where the great ship, the uss olympia, was waiting. the men brought the casket on board the uss olympia, and the olympia made the voyage across the ocean, the atlantic, to the washington navy yard, right here at the pier. the pier is still here. the eight body bearers assembled and removed it.
the photo on top is this exact moment i am describing. the casket was greeted by the body bearers, general pershing, president harding and other dignitaries. it was brought to the rotunda where it lay in state. then on november 11, the same day the war to end all wars ended, november 11, the body was removed by the body bearers, placed on the same caisson that carried president lincoln, and they made the journey on foot to arlington national cemetery. here in this procession was a remarkable procession. all of the medal of honor recipients from world war i were there. the men, many of the civil war veterans that had received the medal of honor were present and walking in procession.
president harding was there, wilson was there, general pershing, who was supposed to be on a white horse, decides to walk as a common mourner behind the casket. the men bring the casket to arlington. and here, this is meant to bring groups in the united states together. history is meant to heal. the great stakeholders in the country, the naacp, the various members of government and even the french all come. they present their finest medals.the greatest the medal of honor is presented to the unknown. words are said. the body is brought to arlington
cemetery and is lowered into the ground in one of the desk and one of the final people to speak is an american indian, a chief. it is meant to heal. the entire moment, a man that had fought the u.s. government. thomas saunders, whose father had fought and grandfather had fought the united states government who now served, were laying to rest in our greatest memorial, the unknown. dirt was shoveled from france into the open hole, and the body was laid to rest. this is our greatest war memorial. this is who we are as americans. it is also about a forgotten generation. the world war i generation that changed and remade the world, and that is why i wrote the unknowns. thank you very much. [applause] patrick: i will be happy to take your questions. [applause] >> if you have questions, please go to the microphones.
>> very good talk, thank you. am i correct in saying that the supposedly unknown soldier from vietnam was subsequently identified, right, in the 1990's through dna testing? is there any chance that could happen with the supposedly unknown soldier from world war i? patrick: the unknown from vietnam was identified. they felt strongly that individual was their son, and dna analysis was performed, and he was re-interned with full military honors and identified. i think it is unlikely that there is, you know, proper dna and the database to identify the
world war i, there is possible contamination, degradation, a lot of issues. the biggest thing is, this is a national symbol. it is who we are as americans. it is why we fight. it represents who we are. i don't think -- i think that is why it is incredibly important. >> thank you. patrick: yes. >> congratulations on your book's success and for saving this part of our military history. my question does not pertain to the unknowns but does your book , make any mention of the legendary fighting 69th infantry regiment were colonel dollars -- were colonel donovan received the medal of honor -- he would go on to lead the officers' strategic services, predecessor to the cia? patrick: it does. some of the greatest heroes brought them home but it also
includes the greatest heroes of the war. this includes sergeant york, whittles be, and the fighting 69th. the second division fights in his area where, in the meuse-argonne, this is america's largest battle and one of its most bloody. if you picture the opening scene of saving private ryan, that is what they had to go through. they were bunkered, machine guns, barbed wire and across it, colonel donovan, many of these other extraordinary individuals had to cross this field. they are taken out in many cases. it is very tragic. donovan is shot in the leg. the book chronicles his experience there. what is extraordinary and
interesting is that this experience changes his life. instead of frontal assaults, he feels there is a better way that will cost less lives. in world war ii general donovan is first the coordinator of information, which is the precursor, predecessor of the oss, which is a predecessor which most people don't realize. it is a predecessor to most special operations forces. this is born in the trenches by general donovan. it comes from his experience in world war i. if you look at the u.s. army special operations forces, the green berets, their direct heritage comes from the operational groups and the others in world war ii. many of these are donovan's ideas himself.
the oss maritime unit is the navy seals. i wrote a book called the first seals which chronicles their extraordinary story where a medical student from the university of pennsylvania who tinkers in the summer with old gas masks and bicycle pumps develops a rebreather for the united states. the navy seals are born in a pool at a hotel a few blocks away from here which was a large indoor pool. they test the rebreather. a dentist from hollywood, hmg woolly, who is a screenwriter for paramount but also a commando and liaison officer with the british government. they come together to develop the first seals. it is extraordinary. taylor survives a german concentration camp after he parachutes behind the lines.
the story of the oss is a story hidden in the national archives. i spent 20 years digging through literally cubic miles of records, some that had never been seen since the war to reveal these extraordinary stories. >> can you talk about the tradition of the silent guard? was that done simultaneously when the soldier was rested, or what is the background? patrick: after world war i, there was not a tomb guard. it was basically the tomb was there, people could picnic there and vandalized it. in the 1930's there was a tomb guard. i think it is better if i let one of the people that are some of the finest americans sort of
answer that story. richard, would you take that on? >> when it started, was a tradition from europe? it was mentioned that british and french had unknown soldiers? >> [indiscernible] is american, that the idea of an unknown as patrick has mentioned started with france, britain, and then the united states. other countries followed as well, but the tomb guard as you see it is strictly an american tradition, and it is united states army. it begins just as patrick mentioned. at first there was no need for any protection, but as time went on, people began to treat it as a place to visit and then picnic
and even sit on it. it was one gentleman, a navy officer, witnessed it, literally went over to the white house. back then you could go visit the president. he said a few things to him which started the guarding process, first civilian guard and then the united states army chosen to take over the military honor guard. >> what year was that? >> 1937? >> 1936. >> i have the former sergeant of the guard -- >> the first civilian guard was 1925, military 1927, started 24 hour guard. patrick: it is important to recognize this is a 24 hours a day, seven days a week activity in any weather situation.
can you sort of describe the things you endured that even a beast -- >> this gets into what it is like to be a member of the honor guard tomb of the unknown soldier. i was there from 1963 to 1965. you have intensive training, and that is intense in many different levels, mental, emotional, physical. but then they prepare you for what you will experience, what they think you will experience while you are on the match. it is what happens to you out there that really starts to shape you finally as what we refer to as tomb guards. examples would be, as patrick reminds me, i had an occasion walking in the summer, hours, as
i was beginning to cross the mat, i was stung by a bee on my ear. as i mentioned to patrick, i have never experienced pain like that then or ever since. my head literally exploded with pain but because of the kind of training that you have, and you have a very profound understanding of who you are and what you are therefore, you don't break. we take great pride in the fact we never break, and we never quit. we are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. having said all that, there is two things i would like to say. this is nothing compared to what our men and women experience in combat. as tough as it gets out there and challenging, and the second thing and most profound thing is it is not about us. we are representatives of the american people. what is going on out there and what this is really all about is
the sacred duty of the american people to never ever forget those who have served and sacrificed. we will never forsake those who are out there yet and we have not found them. this is what it is about. it is what defines us. defines us as americans because what we really are projecting is the question of why. what is it that connects us to those who serve today and those who served in the american revolution? lincoln talked about it as his electric cord speech. it is the principles that are defined in our founding documents. that connects us. that is what is going on out there. we appreciate the recognition for our service. we are proud of it. there is no mistaking that, but we are humbled by the trust. [applause] patrick: beautiful.
i want to say, i met richard two weeks ago. i met him on a radio show. it was on npr. he came up to me and said i would like to shake your hand. been wanting to shake your hand for two years. i am like, really? book, washington's immortals. i was blown away, then he said, "i traveled by an old house every day, and that old house contained one of washington's greatest immortals, watkins. watkins was a statuesque, 6'2" in height, member of the maryland line that fought in every major battle of the american revolution and fought in the american thermopylae in
brooklyn where there is still a mass grave." he noticed the name of the home in the book. it was a footnote almost. he did not realize it, but that was the house he had been passing every day for years. he went to the house. he went near the house, covered in brambles and bushes. there was his grave that had been hidden in plain sight. history in plain sight for all these years. he organized an eagle troop and others, and on memorial day we went home and we talked, we spent time with watkins. we honored his grave and the eagle scouts erected a flagpole. that is what this book, the unknowns and washington's immortals is all about. it is about who we are as americans and recognizing history and the back story behind history we passed every day.
i will take the next question. >> i enjoyed immensely learning all about the tomb of the unknown. someone else had about the same question i did. you mentioned four unknowns. this gentleman picked one. what happened, where are the other three? patrick: they have been reburied. they are marked as unknown soldiers that were part of that ceremony. they are in france. they are all in the same place in france, and their graves are next to each other. yeah. i have not visited their graves, but they are still there. >> thank you. patrick: thank you. we have one more? we are out of time? thank you very much -- [applause]
>> there is a book signing. as part of our year-long 50 capital store, the c-span bus recently made the journey to juneau, alaska. this weekend on c-span, on book tv, we will feature our stocks across alaska showing you the states natural beauty. we will delve into alaska's >> today on q&a, a discussion on a book daughter of the cold war. >> with the deputy mayor then? >> yes. i was running my consulting
firm. i had a client that had something to do with the port of st. petersburg. at a meeting with the real mayor. he was called away and they substituted the deputy mayor, putin. i was annoyed because i wasn't meeting with the mayor, and i knew putin had been kgb. i was negative about it all. he came in and was equally negative and didn't want to meet with some american woman who claimed to run a business. he was very suspicious of women. he had no gallantry, and he was the -- had the coldest eyes i have ever seen. very big, blue, cold eyes. i kept thinking i wonder what would happen if you was interrogating me. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a.