At 11 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11, the Park Rapids American Legion Honor Guard will host a memorial service at the All Veterans Memorial.

Legion Commander Mike Smith explained that this Veterans Day will honor all veterans who have served, but also marks the centennial of remains being laid to rest in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

With the help of the city of Park Rapids, local churches, the Park Rapids Fire Department and Park Rapids Police Department, bells will toll and sirens blare for 11 seconds, followed by a 21-second moment of silence. The Legion Honor Guard will render a rifle salute, followed by a prayer.

“We are asking you to take a few moments out of your day to pay respects to ‘an American soldier known but to God,’” Smith said.

Originally named Armistice Day, Veterans Day is a day to honor all military veterans. It marks the end of World War I. Major hostilities formally ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Many countries around the world mark the day with their own Armistice Day or Remembrance Day celebrations, Smith said. In the U.S. it was renamed Veterans Day in 1954 to celebrate all veterans.

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After the end of WWI, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified serviceman. On Nov. 11, 1921, at 11 a.m., the Medal of Honor was placed on the casket and the unknown service member was interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery.

In May 1958, the remains of a World War II and Korean War soldier were interred in crypts next to the tomb. By Memorial Day 1984, only one set of recovered remains were unidentified from the Vietnam War. Through DNA testing, the Vietnam unknown was identified in 1998.

The tomb has been guarded 24 hours a day, seven days a week since 1937, regardless of weather.

“To all the veterans that walk among us, with the scars that are seen and those unseen, you have earned the respect of a grateful nation. There are not enough words of gratitude to repay what you have been through, so I will just say ‘thank you’ for your sacrifice,” said Smith.