MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Macon Exchange Club brought a little piece of Washington, D.C. to downtown Macon this Presidents Day and it’s one they say is little known but deserves more recognition.
“A lot of people don’t really know about the tomb of the unknown,” said Macon Exchange Club’s Rollin Middlebrooks.
The monument is considered to be the most sacred ground in America.
“It houses the remains of those unknowns that were chosen to represent all of the unknowns,” said Exchange Club member Bill King.
For Presidents Day only, there was a replica of the structure sitting in front of downtown Macon’s terminal station.
“We brought it here because we thought it would be a good community service project.”
Exchange club members from Rome, Georgia built the monument replica–taking it on tour from city to city.
“Our purpose for developing this project is not for reward but to make sure we never forget the cost of freedom, the price that people have paid for freedom,” said Exchange Club member Bill King.
The mini exhibit captured the interests of residents old and young.
“School’s out today so we’re hoping that we’ll have more children,” Middlebrooks told 41NBC.
Children like fifth grader Emory Thompson. “My (Social Studies) teacher told me about this. I love history so, I just wanted to come down and check it out and write down facts about it,” she told 41NBC.
Facts that former Monument Guard Herb Smith knows and remembers all too well.
“I am badge number 70. The Tomb Guard Badge was initiated in 1958 and it’s the second least awarded military badge in existence,” Smith said.
50 years ago it was his task to guard the monument–honoring the lives of unidentified fallen soldiers from World War I, II and the Korean War–with his own life.
“For Patriotism there’s no better symbol than to honor the people who gave up their lives especially the unknowns buried here,” he said.
Seeing the replica and sharing the history behind the original, both Smith and Exchange Club members are looking to teach–even when school’s out.
The replica is exactly half the size of the actual monument located in the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.
The exhibit in Macon shut down around 6:00 Monday evening.