Tomb of the Unknown Soldier replica

A half-sized replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was first displayed at the Coosa Valley Fairgrounds on Memorial Day weekend in 2016. / Spencer Lahr

Coosa Valley Fairground is set to host a number of events in observance of Memorial Day next week, all sponsored by the Exchange Club of Rome.

Starting on Sunday, there will be a display of military history at the fairgrounds furnished by Richard Riggs and Jack Martischnig.

The centerpiece of the display will be a locally made replica of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The display will be open from noon until 5 p.m. Sunday and again from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, May 27 — Memorial Day.

The exhibit belongs to the Exchange Club of Rome and was constructed entirely in Rome by The Phillip Burkhalter Builders. Local Rome artist Chuck Schmult created the artwork, both the sculpturing and painting, to make it appear as marble.

The replica is 50 percent the size of the tomb based in Washington D.C., which is a monument dedicated to American service members who have died without their remains being identified.

The bodies of many American soldiers killed in World War I could not be identified. To honor them, the remains of one soldier was brought to the U.S. Capitol to lie in state, and on Armistice Day of 1921, it was ceremoniously buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

The tomb bears the inscription “HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD.” Congress later directed that an “Unknown American” from subsequent wars – World War II, Korea, and Vietnam – be similarly honored.

Also on Monday, from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., the Palladium building at the fairgrounds will host a Memorial Day observance ceremony to include guest speaker U.S. Army Col. Mark Viney, who is based out of Fort Knox, Kentucky.

The ceremony will include the laying of a wreath, and recognition of fallen service members from Rome and Floyd County.