Guarding the ‘Unknowns’ 24/7, ‘no matter the weather’, honors ‘real sacrifices

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May 29, 2016

Producers of the documentary “The Unknowns,” which releases on Memorial Day, have given us a reminder that the national holiday is not just another day off.

“Memorial Day comes around every year, and unless you know someone who was killed fighting for our country it becomes just a nice day off,” producer Ethan Morse told this reporter via email. “We wanted to show the general public the behind-the-scenes of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier so they could get a better appreciation of why they even have the day off.”

Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, Arlington, Va. The documentary film, 'The Unknowns,' opens this Memorial Day.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington, Va. The documentary film, ‘The Unknowns,’ opens this Memorial Day.

In “The Unknowns,” also produced and directed by Neal Schrodetzki, along with co-producer Matthew Little and executive producer Mark Joseph (“Max Rose”), film viewers follow the training of the Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknowns monument. The site at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia is dedicated to American service members who have died without their remains being identified. An unidentified U.S. serviceman who died in France during World War I was interred at the monument in 1921.

“Our country was built on sacrifice, everyone says freedom is not free, but Tomb Guards live that saying every night and day to honor our nations fallen and missing heroes,” said Morse. … He explained, “After 18 months of training, honoring and remembering The Unknowns 24/7 365 days a year, as filmmakers it seemed like the only story worth telling. World War 1 happened almost 100 years ago and we wanted to remind the younger generation that ‘The Great War,’ [also known as] ‘The War to end all Wars’ was not just a page in a history book. It was a real war, with real sacrifices, sacrifices that Tomb Guards honor every day no matter the weather.”

Making the documentary, which Morse said was filmed “like a reality show,” was not easy. Schrodetzki called the Army every Monday for months until they agreed to allow them to film. … “This is a documentary unlike any other,” Morse said. “We filmed it like a reality show but we tell the story through the training [and] not following only an individual soldier. In doing so, we allow for the audience to be drawn into the mission of the Tomb Guards to honor our nation’s missing and fallen heroes.”

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