Unknown Soldier of Rumania MOH

DATE OF MOH ACTION: 1914-1918 World War I.

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of Rumania (also spelt Romania) was built in 1923 to commemorate the Romanians who died during World War I.

In 1923 it was decided to choose one of the fallen soldiers to represent all who had sacrificed their lives during the war.

The order no. 567/1 May 1923 of the Ministry of War ruled that a war orphan in the 1st grade of a military school would choose the coffin of the Unknown Soldier. The military schools in Iași, Craiova, Chișinău and Dealu Monastery submitted the names of their best students who met the respective criteria. Out of the four candidates the war orphan Amilcar Săndulescu, a 12-year student at the Dimitrie Sturdza Military High School in Craiova (nowadays “Tudor Vladimirescu” Military College), whose father died on the front in 1917, was selected.

Ten unidentified soldiers who died at Mărășești, Mărăști, Oituz, Târgu Ocna, Jiu, Prahova, Bucharest, in Dobruja, Transylvania and Bessarabia were exhumed and laid in oak coffins, doubled with zinc, inside the “Assumption of Mary” Church in Mărășești.

On May 14, 1923, during the solemn ceremony organized at Mărășești, Amilcar Săndulescu knelt in front of the fourth coffin and said: “This is my father“. After the Unknown Soldier had been chosen, the other nine coffins were buried with military honors in the Heroes’ Cemetery in Mărășești.

On May 15, 1923, the Unknown Soldier’s coffin, wrapped in a Romanian Tricolor, was placed on board of a special train to Bucharest, where it was waited for by the King Ferdinand, state officials and an honor guard. Laid on a cannon carriage pulled by eight horses, the coffin was transported in a long procession to the “Mihai Vodă” Church and remained there for 2 more days, so the people could pay their last respects.

On May 17, 1923 (which was also Heroes’ Day/Ascension Day), the coffin was buried inside a crypt in Carol Park with full military honors in the presence of the royal family, the Government, members of Parliament, and numerous members of the public. The stone slab of the crypt read: “Here lies at rest happily unto the Lord the Unknown Soldier, who sacrificed his life for the unity of the Romanian people. On his bones lies the land of united Romania. 1916–1919.

On June 6, 1923, The United States War Department announced that the Congressional Medal of Honor was to be awarded to the Romanian Unknown Soldier. This is one of only five U.S. Medals of Honor to be awarded to soldiers of foreign armies allied with the United States during World War I.

On the night of December 22/23, 1958, the Unknown Soldier’s monument was dismantled and moved, in great secrecy, to the Mărășești Mausoleum by the Communist regime to make room for the Mausoleum of the Communist Heroes, where several leaders of the Party were later interred (among them Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej).

In 1991, after the fall of the regime, the Tomb was moved back into the Carol Park, closer to its original location.



By virtue of the authority vested by law in the President of the United States, The Congressional Medal of Honor, emblem of the highest military ideals and virtues, is bestowed in the name of Congress of the United States upon the unknown, unidentified Rumanian soldier in a desire to add all that is possible to the imperishable glory won by the soldiers of Rumania who fought as comrades of the American soldiers during the World War, and to commemorate with them the deeds of the nations associated with the United States of America, by paying this tribute to their unknown dead.  (A.G. 220.52, 17 May 1923) (War Department General Orders, No. 22, 6 June 1923).