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Known or Unknown

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was built following the first World War. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unidentified American soldier from World War I in the plaza of Arlington National Cemetery. On September 1921, four more American bodies were exhumed from unmarked battlefield graves in France and placed in the new Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington. This memorial was dedicated on November 11, 1921, but additional work needed to be completed before being opened to the public on April 9, 1932. The first military guards were troopers from the 3rd Cavalry, “Brave Rifles”, posted at Fort Myer. Since April 6, 1948,  the regiment was reactivated and has been guarded by soldiers from 3rd Infantry which you see today when visiting.

So Paul, standing in the center of the Areopagus [Mars Hill meeting place], said: Men of Athens, I perceive in every way [on every hand and with every turn I make] that you are most religious or very reverent to demons. 23 For as I passed along and carefully observed your objects of worship, I came also upon an altar with this inscription, To the unknown god. Now what you are already worshiping as unknown, this I set forth to you, Acts 17:22-23.

During the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul stumbled upon a monument dedicated to an unknown god. Unlike other idols erected to the various gods of Greece, this altar suggested the presence of a higher power. This subtle memorial provides an open door for the apostle Paul to introduce philosophers to the God who raised Jesus from the dead. Paul’s speech on Mars Hill got mixed reviews. Like any debate, preconceived notions, stereotypes and uncertainty prevented skeptics from accepting or embracing this unknown god. Based upon the end of Acts 17, the resurrection of the dead was a stumbling block, too unbelievable for minds to grasp. Nonetheless, Paul was welcomed back to speak, winning over Dionysius, a judge of the Areopagus.

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], Romans 1:20.

I spent the first portion of my life in a religious setting, forced to attend Mass every weekend, even on vacation. Unfortunately, I spent more time looking at my watch than paying attention to the priest giving the Homily. If you haven’t already noticed, I was raised Catholic, trained to pursue the Sacraments such as Communion and Confirmation. The dangerous aspect about being religious is that you know just enough to get by. Instead of practicing faith by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus, I treated God like a check list. I went to church, completed confirmation and confessed my sins to a priest. Despite attending church for 15 years, I didn’t know God. If it wasn’t for the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s Bible Study at my high school, God still might be a mystery to me. However, if you want the unknown to become known, look for the signs in creation so that an invisible God becomes visible through faith.

by Jay Mankus

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