Identify and Honor Unknown American Heroes

Target: Lloyd Austin, Secretary of U.S. Department of Defense

Goal: Broaden efforts to identify remains of U.S. soldiers with DNA databases and technology.

During every major war in American history, hundreds or thousands of brave soldiers have given their lives in anonymity. The massive number of unidentified wartime fatalities is represented most iconically in Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier memorial. Promising technology could soon restore to these fallen heroes one of the most fundamental markers of their humanity: their identities.

In World War II alone, more than 6,000 Americans are still unknown, not to mention the 80,000 officially recorded as missing in action. Graves across the country and the world are topped with blank tombstones or markers for soldiers “known but to God.” For Black soldiers, the legacy of slavery and discrimination made record-keeping and subsequent identification for these individuals especially challenging.

The current program used by the Department of Defense to identify unknown remains is plagued by a cumbersome and very hit-or-miss process. Bodies are only exhumed and DNA taken if the department believes it has a 50 percent chance of finding a match with a close living family member. While this process does work and has led to thousands of identifications, the program does little for soldiers with no known living family members or for soldiers from poorer families whose records may have slipped through the cracks.  A new proposal would do away with the 50 percent rule and seek DNA from as many unidentified soldiers as possible. These samples would then be run through several national DNA databases and possibly through ancestry sites.

Sign the petition below to support this important utilization of modern technology that could bring peace to families and full honor to Americans who sacrificed their lives for service to their country.


Dear Secretary Austin,

An estimated 6,000 soldiers remain unidentified from World War II alone, many of them seemingly forgotten minorities never forgotten by those who loved and lost them. One of the nation’s most historic memorials remembers the unknown soldiers who gave their lives, and ultimately, their identities. Let Memorial Day 2021 mark the occasion when America’s foremost military agency restored to these soldiers back their most priceless possessions: their names.

The widespread recovery of DNA from unidentified soldier remains and its subsequent deployment through the nation’s massive DNA databases could truly be a game-changer. These soldiers could finally be laid to rest at home. Family members and descendants with lifelong questions could finally receive answers and needed peace. And the anonymous Americans who sacrificed their all would at last have their stories and their legacies memorialized.

Do not let this technology go to waste for the fallen. Identify America’s unknown soldiers.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Sharefaith


  1. Evan Jane Kriss says:

    Please honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. Please do this. For all of them.

  2. Karen Redd says:

    God bless our soldiers who gave their lives for this country, they deserve all the honor possible to give and more. It’s so sad they died for it when it is being destroyed.

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