Virtual Date With History
Thursday, November 4
7:00 PM CDT Online via Zoom
Free Event but Registration Required
The Unknowns: The Untold Story of America’s Unknown Soldier and WWI’s Most Decorated Heroes Who Brought Him Home
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is sacred ground at Arlington National Cemetery. Originally constructed in 1921 to hold one of the thousands of unidentified American soldiers lost in World War I, it now also contains unknowns from World War II and the Korean and Vietnam Wars, and receives millions of visitors each year who pay silent tribute.
When the Unknown Soldier was laid to rest in Arlington, General John Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces in WWI, selected eight of America’s most decorated, battle-hardened veterans to serve as Body Bearers. He chose them for their bravery and to tell the larger story of America’s role in World War I.
For the first time, O’Donnell cinematically portrays their heroics on the battlefield one hundred years ago. The Body Bearers appropriately spanned America’s service branches and specialties. Their ranks included a cowboy who relived the charge of the light brigade, an American Indian who heroically breached mountains of German barbed wire and captured more than sixty Germans, a salty New Englander who dueled a U-boat for hours in a fierce gunfight, a tough New Yorker who sacrificed his body to save his ship, and an indomitable soldier who, though blinded by gas, nevertheless overcame five machinegun nests.
Their stories slip easily into the larger narrative of America’s involvement in the conflict, transporting readers into the midst of dramatic battles during 1917-18 that ultimately decided the Great War.
Celebrated military historian and bestselling author Patrick K. O’Donnell illuminates the saga behind the creation of the monument and animates the tomb by giving voice to those who served. The Unknowns recreates the moving ceremony during which it was consecrated, where the eight Body Bearers and the sergeant who chose the body to be interred, solemnly united. Brilliantly researched, vividly told, The Unknowns is a timeless tale of heeding the calls of duty, courage, and brotherhood. It humanizes the most important event of the twentieth century, WWI, which still casts a shadow upon all our lives.
MEET THE SPEAKER: Combat historian, bestselling author, and public speaker Patrick K. O’Donnell has written 12 critically acclaimed books that recount the epic stories of America’s wars from the Revolution to Iraq. A Fellow at Mount Vernon, he is the recipient of numerous national book awards. O’Donnell is a premier expert on elite and special operations units and irregular warfare. Learn more about Patrick K O’Donnell.
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Illinois teachers can earn 1.5 PD credits for watching the presentation and filling out a short PD activity.
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This program includes built-in closed captioning through Zoom.