Repairs to Tomb of Unknowns Shelved Amid Failure

Thursday, 09 Jun 2011 02:59 PM

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Efforts to repair cracks in the white marble monument at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington Cemetery have failed, and additional repairs that had been set to begin this week have been put on hold. Army officials agreed to stop the repair attempt after preservationists objected, The Washington Post reported.

Tomb of the Unknowns, cracks, repairs,
Cracks in the Tomb of the Unknowns were repaired in 1975 and 1989 but keep returning. (Getty Images Photo)
The preservationists were notified of the second attempt to repair the zigzag cracks across the monument just a week ago and asked officials to slow the process.

Robert Nieweg, director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Southern Field Office, told the Post, “This is racing forward. They’ve already failed once. Why would they rush into a second repair when the experts don’t know for certain why the first one failed? . . . If you don’t do it right, you can harm the historic resource.”

Army officials who oversee the cemetery agreed and noted that the second attempt probably would not have gone ahead this week anyway because of the heat wave blanketing the area that would affect the repair grout.

The cracks in the monument, which have grown in length and width over the years, were repaired in 1975 and 1989. In 2007, one was more than 24 feet long.

Officials wanted to replace the monument, but preservationists objected, and the cracks were repaired again in April 2010, the Post reported.

The grout used to fill the cracks began to flake and fall out last fall. Officials plan to experiment with different types of grout and say another round of repairs probably will take place in the fall.

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