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Even under the watchful eye of the Army’s Old Guard, an attack is taking place on the Tomb of the Unknowns.
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There is a crack, actually two cracks in the main sculpted portion of the stone and they need to be filled so water, dirt and bugs don’t get into them. Amy Hollis, architectural conservator, Worcester Eisenbrandt, Inc.
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The crack has been steadily growing over the years.
"This particular crack is kind of an anomaly and it’s not known exactly how this crack came about but there is a theory that its from shocks during quarrying, transportation or sculpting," Amy Hollis, architectural conservator, Worcester Eisenbrandt, Inc.
The Corps of Engineers and the cemetery are working closely with the Virginia State Historic Preservation office, as well as a multitude of federal and non-governmental agencies to ensure the best possible solution in preserving this iconic symbol.
“This is the nation’s grave site and the vision for it is to preserve it for as long as we can,” Col. Tori Bruzese, engineer, Arlington National Cemetery
“Millions of people come to the stone to acknowledge its significance and honor the sacrifices made, if we lose that original stone we lose the connection to the families and the veterans who installed it,” Robert Nieweg, director - southern field office, National Trust for Historic Preservation
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Using a recipe of lime, cement and crushed marble, architectural conservators will fill the cracks of the tomb, attempting to match the mixture as closely as possible to the monument.
“Using a crushed marble aggregate is going to act like the stone that is already there you are going to be able to see it, the light is going to play off of it a lot like the stone,” Amy Hollis, architectural conservator, Worcester Eisenbrandt, Inc.
According cemetery officials the repair work can only occur twice a year, May and September.
“It is important that we do this during the month of September because it provides us the right temperature in terms of the weather and in terms of the marble itself,” Col. Tori Bruzese, engineer, Arlington National Cemetery.
Having the proper temperature allows the mixture to set and harden properly.
The work should take three nights when visitors are not present, allowing preservationists to work without disrupting the public’s experience at one of America’s most somber tributes to its war heroes.
"It’s unique, it’s absolutely unique in our nation’s heritage and it is irreplaceable,” Robert Nieweg
Which is why the preservation effort is on in full force to keep the tomb intact for generations to come. From Arlington National Cemetery, (nat pop) Patrick Bloodgood.