Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Q&A: Tomb of the Unknowns, Swiffer couple

Tomb of the Unknowns

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is located in Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. In Philadelphia, there is the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier. Why haven't the remains in Philadelphia been moved to Arlington?

The Tomb of the Unknowns, as it's now called, was authorized by Congress on March 21, 1921. An unknown soldier from World War I was brought back from France and interred there on Nov. 11 of the same year.

Unknown soldiers from World War II and the Korean War were added in 1958, essentially making it a tomb of 20th century wars. A Vietnam soldier was included in 1984, but removed in 1998 after DNA testing identified the remains as those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. His remains were returned to his family in St. Louis.

In 1999, the Pentagon announced that no new remains would be placed in the memorial.

There are separate tombs for the other two pivotal wars in American history, the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.

The Civil War Unknown Monument, also at Arlington, was built in 1865 and houses 2,111 Union and Confederate soldiers. The Tomb of the Unknown Confederate Soldier was dedicated in 1981 in Biloxi, Miss., where the remains of an unknown soldier had been discovered two years earlier.

The Revolutionary War monument was built in 1957 in Philadelphia's Washington Square, honoring the many soldiers of that war who were buried in mass graves in that park.

That Swiffer couple

I stop everything to watch the Swiffer commercials featuring the endearing old couple, Lee and Morty. Are they married in real life? Were they actors before this commercial gig?

Morty Kaufman is a 91-year-old retired pharmacist and his wife, Lee, is a 90-year-old retired teacher. They have been married 44 years, marrying one another after their previous spouses died. They live in the Long Island town of Valley Stream, N.Y., and have a combined six children and five grandchildren. The Kaufmans are active in their community, but neither of them had acted professionally before their Swiffer commercials.

One of their daughters knows a casting director who was looking for a mature couple and she told the director about her parents. "And so we began a new career at the age of 90," Lee told the Huffington Post. "Morty worked for 40 years and has been retired for 30 and now, all of a sudden, we're doing something completely new."

On July 1, Swiffer launched a series of commercials on YouTube, where they were a huge success, before beginning a TV commercial campaign. "We feel that all the commercials are made by young, beautiful people and we think our age group has been neglected, and so we're holding up our end," Morty said. Their commercials also can be viewed at YouTube.

Compiled from Times and wire reports. To submit a question, email

Q&A: Tomb of the Unknowns, Swiffer couple 11/07/13 [Last modified: Friday, November 8, 2013 11:27am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours