The Incredible Montana Connection, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

This week the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier marked 100 years. Did you know that there is an incredible Montana connection with the very first Tomb of the Unknown Soldier ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery?

The great Montana historian and retired US Navy Captain Ken Robison is the keynote speaker for a Veterans Day ceremony in Great Falls. I spoke with him Wednesday morning about the history of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the incredible Montana connection with the very first ceremony 100 years ago.

Ken Robison: The Crow Nation connection is fascinating because Chief Plenty Coups then about 71 years old, but the last of the traditional chiefs of the Crow Nation had been invited to represent all of Native Americans, all indigenous peoples throughout the country, and so he was there as an honored guest. And after President Harding gave his speech and the burial, the heads of state from many nations, the senior leaders left tributes, President Harding had left the Medal of Honor on the casket, and Chief Plenty Coups went up to the casket and laid his own war bonnet and his own coups stick, and on that coups stick was the first feather that plenty coup had earned in battle, symbolically starting him on his way to head chieftain.

Now a century later, as Robison tells us, the Crow Nation was back at Arlington Cemetery (see the incredible photos below) for the 100th ceremony.

Ken Robison: I believe there were things going on, both Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, with ceremonial drummers, the honor guard, and high school students and so on. So it was quite a delegation from the Crow Nation paying tribute to that very special relationship that the Chief Plenty Coups had established  with the Unknown Soldier by leaving those very personal items on the tomb at the time. And he also, in a very brief tribute, says, ‘I hope the Great Spirit will grant that all this nation’s noble warriors have not given up their lives in vain, and that there will be peace to all men hereafter. That is the Indians hope and prayer.’ So you know, here it is 100 years of centennial later that the anniversary is being honored and the relationship with the Crow Nation and Montana has been honored.

Here’s the audio of Ken Robison in his own words:



(Photo by Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images)



LOOK: 100 years of American military history



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