DOW 30K: Yellin’ for Yellen

DOW 30K: Yellin’ for Yellen

The market likes President-Elect Joe Biden’s selection of Janet Yellen to serve as Treasury Secretary. Many Wall Streeters feared that Biden would appoint Elizabeth Warren, while many progressives feared he would appoint someone too friendly to big banks and the wealthy.[1]

According to Bloomberg:

With Yellen in charge, Biden’s Treasury department will be prepared to join Fed Chairman Jerome Powell’s policy of lower-for-longer interest rates with extended, expansionary government spending.[2]

Yellen faces severe conditions, as COVID-19 infections continue to soar and the number of Americans in need of immediate financial help soars right along with it. As Bloomberg points out, her most immediate challenge is “breaking a logjam on Capitol Hill to deliver economic relief to long and growing unemployment lines.”[3]

Janet Yellen certainly comes to the position with a surfeit of credentials. She earned her Ph.D. in economics from Yale, taught at Harvard, and as early as 1977 joined the staff of the Federal Reserve Board in Washington. During the Clinton administration, she was the head of the Council of Economic Advisors. She then became the president of San Francisco’s Federal Reserve Bank.

In 2014, President Obama appoint Ms. Yellen to serve as the first woman to chair the Federal Reserve.

She will now bring this experience and background to tackle the problems of unemployment and perhaps slowing economic growth—both sparked by the virus.

Yellen’s appearance on CNBC’s Squawk on the Street is likely the real reason for Mr. Market’s excitement. She said: “It would be a substantial change to give the Federal Reserve the ability to buy stock.” And she said:

I frankly don’t think [Fed stock ownership] is necessary at this point. I think intervention to support the credit markets is more important, but longer term it wouldn’t be a bad thing for Congress to reconsider the powers that the Fed has with respect to assets it can own.

We can only say: When the Federal Reserve starts buying stock, free market price discovery goes out the window.

But meanwhile, the bulls are roaring their approval of one of Biden’s most important appointments.

DOW 30K: Yellin’ for Yellen

Thanksgiving

When we were young, Thanksgiving was simple. It was a day off from school, or from work. A day for watching football, or for eating as much turkey and pie as we could manage. As we’ve gotten older, though, our relationship with Thanksgiving has changed. It’s not just a day for eating, or relaxing, or even visiting with family, as enjoyable as all those things are. 

It’s a day for reflecting.

When we look back and reflect, we often realize just how many simple joys and surprises we’ve been blessed with throughout the year. Every last-minute change of plan that led to something better. Every hardship endured that made us that much stronger for the next. Every door that closed only for another to open. Every goal achieved; every obstacle overcome. Every much-needed hug or kind word spoken. Every new friendship made or old rekindled. Every person who ever lent their hand to hold, their arm to lean on, their heart to touch. 

Too often, we let the most golden moments of our lives go by without noticing. But Thanksgiving is a chance to count and catalog them all. So they don’t go to waste. So we remember them always. 

Recently, we discovered a Thanksgiving poem written by a poet named Ella Wheeler Wilcox in the 19th century. It perfectly encapsulates what the day now means to us – and why Thanksgiving is so important. We wanted to share it with you because, we think you will enjoy it, too. 

Thanksgiving 
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox 

We walk on starry fields of white 
And do not see the daisies; 
For blessings common in our sight 
We rarely offer praises. 
We sigh for some supreme delight 
To crown our lives with splendor, 
And quite ignore our daily store 
Of pleasures sweet and tender. 

Upon our thought and feeling. 
They hang about us all the day, 
Our time from pleasure stealing. 
So unobtrusive many a joy 
We pass by and forget it, 
But worry strives to own our lives 
And conquers if we let it. 

There’s not a day in all the year 
But holds some hidden pleasure, 
And looking back, joys oft appear 
To brim the past’s wide measure. 
But blessings are like friends, 
I hold, Who love and labor near us. 
We ought to raise our notes of praise 
While living hearts can hear us. 

Full many a blessing wears the guise 
Of worry or of trouble. 
Farseeing is the soul and wise
Who knows the mask is double. 
But he who has the faith and strength 
To thank his God for sorrow 
Has found a joy without alloy 
To gladden every morrow. 

We ought to make the moments notes 
Of happy, glad Thanksgiving; 
The hours and days a silent phrase 
Of music we are living. 
And so the theme should swell and grow 
As weeks and months pass o’er us, 
And rise sublime at this good time, 
A grand Thanksgiving chorus.

We hope this Thanksgiving gives you a chance to reflect on all the joys, pleasures, and blessings in your life. 

On behalf of our entire team at Research Financial Strategies​, we hope you have a wonderful holiday! ​

Market Commentary November 23, 2020

Market Commentary November 23, 2020

How Are Your Investments Doing Lately?  Receive A Free, No-Obligation 2nd Opinion On Your Investment Portfolio >

Weekly Financial Market Commentary

November 23, 2020

Our Mission Is To Create And Preserve Client Wealth

The U.S. economy is like a semi-trailer truck. No one likes being stuck behind a semi at a stoplight because big trucks don’t go from zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds. Neither does the U.S. economy.

When the pandemic brought our economy to a near virtual standstill early in 2020, the U.S. government and Federal Reserve (Fed) took extraordinary measures to help the economy get going again:

  • Congress passed the CARES Act stimulus, which gave Americans and American businesses badly-needed fuel to support economic recovery. Businesses were able to stay open and people had money to spend. That’s important because consumer spending accounts for almost 70 percent of U.S. economic growth.
  • The Federal Reserve paved the road and gave it a downward slope by creating a supportive interest rate environment and implementing special lending facilities intended to support businesses, as well as state and local governments. Some programs were funded by the CARES Act.

Government and central bank stimulus helped the American economy get going again.

Is slower growth ahead?
In recent weeks, however, there have been signs economic recovery may be losing momentum and the virus may, once again, be responsible.

Recently, the United States passed a grim milestone. The number of deaths attributed to COVID-19 surpassed 250,000. For perspective, that’s roughly equivalent to the population of Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Irving, Texas; or Buffalo, New York.

Last week, some economic data came in weaker than expected and initial unemployment claims ticked higher. Lucia Mutikani of Reuters reported:

“U.S. retail sales increased less than expected in October and could slow further, restrained by spiraling new COVID-19 infections and declining household income as millions of unemployed Americans lose government financial support…‘Fed officials are saying they might have to do more and today’s data may turn that thinking into a reality.’”

The Treasury curbs the Fed
The tools available to the Fed changed last week. The U.S. Treasury announced it will let several of the Fed’s Treasury-funded special lending programs expire at the end of 2020. Alexandra Scaggs of Barron’s reported the programs include:

  • The Main Street Lending Program for small-to-mid-size businesses and non-profits
  • The Municipal Liquidity Facility that lends directly to state and local governments
  • Corporate Credit Facilities that purchase corporate bonds

For these programs to reopen in the future, Congress will need to appropriate new funds. One economist cited by CNBC said, “U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s decision to allow key pandemic relief programs to expire is like stripping the lifeboats from the Titanic.”

Not everyone agreed. “Programs like the municipal bond program and the Main Street Lending Program have not worked, in part because the Fed is a central bank. And when you demand that it take on fiscal government tasks…it does that very carefully, and, frankly, very badly,” explained an analyst interviewed on Marketplace Morning Report.

Despite changing monetary support, U.S. stock markets remained resilient. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s attributed the stock market’s resilience to positive vaccine news, which “…might not have pushed the stock market higher, but it sure was a reason not to sell.” Major indices finished the week slightly lower.

Disruption and innovation – Thanksgiving style.
Thanksgiving is going to be a lot different this year – and Americans are rising to the challenge. Some are cooking up their favorite recipes and peppering the table with screens so they can share the event from afar with friends and family members. Others are taking the opportunity to move away from turkey and introduce new entrees. No matter what will be on the table, people are finding opportunities to give and reasons to be grateful:

“In my neighborhood, we have decided to divide the Thanksgiving dinner up. Each neighbor participant makes something to share…We will package up our dishes in individual containers to be left on each neighbor’s porch at a determined time. The people who are having a difficult time getting by don’t have to contribute anything – neither do the veterans. We will all enjoy our meal in our separate homes but will definitely be grateful for the kindness and generosity of our neighbors and friends.”
–Sheryl Smetana, an Axios AM reader

“I’m going to have an amazing Thanksgiving all by myself,” Gabriel said. “I will sit on a park bench, and I will think about the great Thanksgivings that I’ve had in my life and be thankful for them. One bad Thanksgiving out of 63 amazing Thanksgivings – that’s pretty good odds. Maybe we should be a little more thankful for what we do have than constantly be complaining about what we don’t have.”
–Person at a food pantry, interviewed by CBS News

 “Everyone loves her father-in-law’s potato salad but the family cannot congregate this year to enjoy it…Walker says she resorted to desperate measures. “I reached out to him and asked whether we could maybe send the potato salad in the mail,” she confesses. Because no one wanted to add side servings of botulism to the holiday menu, Walker says, her father-in-law decided to tell everyone how to make the potato salad instead. Numerous long-coveted, heavily-guarded family recipes are being shared for the first time in 2020.”
–Cora Faith Walker, interviewed by NPR Weekend Edition Sunday

 

We hope you have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot.”
–Hausa proverb

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Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.
* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

 

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

 

Sources:
https://home.treasury.gov/policy-issues/cares
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DPCERE1Q156NBEA
https://www.brookings.edu/research/fed-response-to-covid19/
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/GDP
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy/u-s-retail-sales-lose-speed-as-pandemic-lack-of-fiscal-stimulus-weigh-idUSKBN27X1PC
https://coronavirus.jhu.edu
https://worldpopulationreview.com/us-cities
https://www.dol.gov/ui/data.pdf
https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-treasury-is-asking-the-fed-for-its-money-back-heres-what-it-means-for-markets-51605893511 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-23-20_Barrons-The_Treasury_is_Asking_the_Fed_for_Its_Money_Back-What_it_Means_for_Markets-Footnote_9.pdf)
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/20/weinberg-mnuchins-fed-move-is-like-stripping-titanic-of-its-lifeboats.html
https://www.marketplace.org/2020/11/20/mnuchin-moves-to-cut-off-fed-pandemic-emergency-lending-program/
https://www.barrons.com/articles/remember-the-fed-put-now-theres-the-vaccine-put-to-bolster-stocks-51605916806?refsec=economy-and-policy (or go to
https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-23-20_Barrons-The_Stock_Market_is_Getting_Support_from_a_Vaccine_Put-Heres_What_that_Means-Footnote_12.pdf)
https://www.barrons.com/market-data?mod=BOL_TOPNAV (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-23-20_Barrons-Market_Data-Footnote_13.pdf)
https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-am-019c54d0-e50a-41f9-8f88-22284fc78778.html
https://www.cbsnews.com/news/covid-19-pandemic-many-reflect-on-what-to-be-thankful-for/
https://www.npr.org/2020/11/22/934982793/how-to-plan-and-even-be-grateful-for-a-socially-distanced-thanksgiving
https://www.countryliving.com/food-drinks/g2059/thanksgiving-quotes/

Market Commentary November 23, 2020

Weekly Market Commentary 11/16/2020

How Are Your Investments Doing Lately?  Receive A Free, No-Obligation 2nd Opinion On Your Investment Portfolio >

Weekly Financial Market Commentary

November 16, 2020

Our Mission Is To Create And Preserve Client Wealth

Vaccine can be a powerful word. It’s worth 14 points in Scrabble (42 on a triple word square) and, last week, it was worth a whole lot more than that to financial markets.

On Monday, a pharmaceutical company and a biotech company announced preliminary trials of their vaccine show it may be 90 percent effective, reported Financial Times. The revelation conjured tantalizing visions of a future in which virus precautions are unnecessary and life returns to normal.

Around the world, pandemic-fatigued populations cheered and markets rallied. CNBC reported:

“The Dow was up nearly 3 percent, while Nasdaq fell 1.5 as laggard sectors like energy and financials outperformed tech. Stay-at-home plays…were sharply lower, but airlines rallied 16 percent. The S&P energy sector, still down 45 percent this year, was up more than 14 percent, and financials were up 8 percent.”

As demand for risk assets, like stocks, increased so did bond yields. In the United States, the yield on 10-year Treasuries rose to 0.97 percent. Rising long-term interest rates caused analysts to speculate about the possibility of inflation and stagflation (rising prices during a period of weak economic growth), reported Barron’s.

Mid-week, enthusiasm moderated. While investors remained confident a vaccine could lead to economic recovery over the longer term, concerns about the shorter-term took center stage. Markets retreated a bit as investors mulled:

·         Weaker-than-expected consumer sentiment. In November, consumer sentiment has declined by 5.9 percent month-to-month and it was off by more than 20 percent year-to-year. Sentiment is an important measure because consumer spending is a major driver of U.S. economic growth. When sentiment declines, people may spend less.

·         A surge in coronavirus cases. The number of daily cases has increased by more than 70 percent nationwide since the beginning of November. Eighteen states are at risk of reaching full hospital capacity, reported NPR.

 ·         New pandemic restrictions. As holidays approach, many cities and states introduced or re-introduced restrictions intended to slow the spread of the virus. The measures could slow economic recovery.

·         No progress on new stimulus. If good news about a vaccine throttles political appetite for additional stimulus, small business owners could be in trouble. In 2019, small businesses employed almost 60 million people – 47 percent of working Americans. A new Goldman Sachs survey found “…more than half of small business owners (52 percent) have stopped paying themselves in a bid to keep their businesses afloat and four in 10 (42 percent) already have begun laying off employees or cutting worker pay,” reported Axios.

Market volatility is likely to persist. Stay calm and don’t let short-term events jar you from your long-term financial goals.

Is value investing making a comeback?
In 1949, Benjamin Graham, who is known as the father of value investing, penned The Intelligent Investor. His book offered insights about how to reduce the risk of loss when investing in stocks.

Graham encouraged investors to understand a stock is more than a ticker symbol. Stockholders are owners of businesses that have underlying value, and that value does not depend on its stock price. He believed investors should purchase shares when a stock is trading below the underlying worth of the business. Value investing is all about looking for bargains, for diamonds in the rough.

Value investing is often discussed in tandem with growth investing.

Growth investors are less concerned about share price and more concerned about above-average earnings growth. They invest in companies that are expected to grow quickly and deliver impressive returns as a result of that growth.

Value investing has had a rough decade. Despite a long history of outperformance – from 1983 through 2019, the FTSE Russell 1000 Value Index outperformed the Russell 1000 Growth Index – value has underperformed since the 2008 financial crisis.

Last week, there was a move from growth-oriented stocks into value-oriented stocks. The Economist explained, “In the past week or so, fortunes have reversed. Technology stocks have sold off. Value stocks have rallied, as prospects for a coronavirus vaccine raise hopes of a quick return to a normal economy. This might be the start of a long-heralded rotation from overpriced tech to far cheaper cyclicals – stocks that do well in a strong economy. Perhaps value is back.”

Time will tell.

Weekly Focus – Think About It 
“The vaccine news airlines have been waiting for arrived this week, raising hopes for a recovery in passenger air travel – but only if the crippled industry can muster the resources to deliver billions of life-saving doses to the world…Just providing a single dose to the world’s 7.8 billion people would fill 8,000 747 freighter planes…”
–Joann Muller, Axios News, November 13, 2020

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Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.
* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

 

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

 

Sources:
https://www.wordunscrambler.net/scrabble-word-meaning/vaccine
https://www.ft.com/content/48400214-6caf-4d88-b145-75a3cead2b23 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-16-20_FinancialTimes-COVID_Vaccine_Breakthrough_Fuels_Broad_Global_Equity_Rally-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/09/vaccine-news-unleashes-new-momentum-in-stock-market-as-hunkered-down-investors-flee-cash.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/09/us-bonds-treasury-yields-fall-following-bidens-election-win.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/11/12/stock-market-futures-open-to-close-news.html
https://www.barrons.com/articles/long-term-interest-rates-are-rising-could-that-spell-stagflation-51605315647 (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-16-20_Barrons-Heres_What_the_Rise_in_Long-Term_Interest_Rates_Means-Footnote_6.pdf)
http://www.sca.isr.umich.edu
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/consumer-sentiment.asp
https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/11/13/934566781/the-pandemic-this-week-8-things-to-know-about-the-surge
https://cdn.advocacy.sba.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/23142719/2019-Small-Business-Profiles-US.pdf
https://www.axios.com/small-business-owners-uncertain-of-survival-without-new-stimulus-074535f7-9541-462b-bbfa-d4b9f75f3646.html
https://www.amazon.com/Intelligent-Investor-Collins-Business-Essentials-ebook/dp/B000FC12C8/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr= (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-16-20_Book_Excerpt-The_Intelligent_Investor-Footnote_12.pdf)
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/g/growthinvesting.asp
https://russellinvestments.com/us/blog/value-and-growth
https://www.economist.com/briefing/2020/11/12/value-investing-is-struggling-to-remain-relevant (or go to https://peakcontent.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/+Peak+Commentary/11-16-20_TheEconomist-Value_Investing_is_Struggling_to_Remain_Relevant-Footnote_15.pdf)
https://www.axios.com/covid-19-vaccine-airlines-distribution-020ed2ca-6387-490c-b357-4be27445360b.html

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Veterans Day – The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Veterans Day – The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

On March 4, 1921, the United States Congress approved the burial of an unidentified soldier who fought and died in World War I. He was buried on a Virginia hillside not far from the Potomac River in the Arlington National Cemetery—a symbol of those who have died to protect our freedoms. In respect, soldiers stand guard to protect his tomb.

Intriguing … who was this man? What was his story? Why do soldiers stand guard? What makes today’s solider want to be chosen for this duty? How did this tradition come about?

The Story

The story begins in France on Memorial Day 1921 when wounded Army Sergeant Edward F. Younger was given the task to choose from four caskets of unknown soldiers to receive this honor. He placed a wreath of white roses on the third casket from the left. The casket was sent to the Capitol Rotunda where the unknown soldier lies in state from the day his casket arrived until November 11, 1921. President Warren G. Harding officiated at the interment ceremony.

In 1958, several “unknowns” were exhumed from cemeteries in Europe, Africa, Hawaii, and the Philippines to represent World War II. Two of these exhumed soldiers were chosen—one from the European Theater, and one from the Pacific Theater. These two caskets were taken aboard the USS Canberra where Navy Hospitalman 1st Class, William R. Charette selected the Unknown Soldier of World War II. The casket not chosen received a burial at sea.

This same year, four unknown Korean War Veterans were chosen from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. The final selection of two caskets was made by Army Master Sgt. Ned Lyle. President Eisenhower conducted the ceremony of internment for the World War II and Korean War Veterans at Arlington Cemetery.

The Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam War was designated by U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Jay Kellogg Jr. on May 17, 1984. President Reagan presided over this internment. In 1998, the Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam War was exhumed and, through DNA testing, was determined to be Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. It was decided that the crypt containing 1st Lt. Blassie’s remains would remain empty.

The Guards of the Tomb

Guards of the tomb were created in 1926 as too many visitors were using the original crypt as a picnic table. By 1937, guards were stationed from the moment gates were opened in the morning until gates closed at night. Guards are charged to prevent any desecration or disrespect to the tomb and crypts.

These guards are military soldiers who come from every walk of life, from every state in the union, and are hand picked. Training for these men and women is rigorous. Over 80% of those who try out for this duty do not make it. Knowledge must be extensive about this monument, and strong military bearing a must. There are three Reliefs assigned with each guard, consisting of nine soldiers. And each Relief is based on height of the soldiers. The Tomb is completely run by Non-Commissioned Officers. Each soldier has a specific post to cover.

To serve at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a great honor.

Please join with us this Veterans Day to remember those who have died so all of us may enjoy the freedoms we all have today.

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