National Commemoration of the Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (1921-2021)
We view the Centennial not only as a celebration to remember the burial of the World War I Unknown Soldier, but an opportunity to reflect on what the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier means to America. In three instances since 1921, the remains of unknown servicemen have been interred to the west of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in individual crypts, with the remains of the Vietnam Unknown Soldier removed after modern science identified the serviceman. This crypt remains empty, but a marker was placed honoring all those still missing in action (MIA/POW) which underscores the larger purpose of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and rings true to the legislation that created the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Congressman Hamilton Fish, who viewed the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as a focal point to bring all Americans together—that its meaning be not limited to the Great War and the exclusive claim of that War’s veterans.
I hope you will join us in the national endeavor.
To learn more about our efforts to meet Congresses directive in NDAA 2017, and how you can participate in a project where you live read more.
- Gavin McIlvenna
President & Centennial Committee Chairman
Support the Society
The Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) is able to provide our programs, events, assistance, scholarships, and services due to the generosity of its members, organizations, and individuals. SHGTUS does not receive institutional funding. Note: The Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a 501(c)(3) organization, so your contributions may be fully tax deductible.
Did you know?
How many Sentinels have been female?
There have been over 630 tomb guards awarded the badge since 1958 when we started counting. There are hundreds more from the year 1926 when the Army started guarding the Tomb. The 3rd US Infantry (The Old Guard) is the unit that has been given the duty of guarding the Tomb. It was given this sacred duty in 1948. The Old Guard was -- and still is -- considered a combat unit. As an Infantry unit, females were not permitted in the ranks for many years. It wasn't until 1994 that females were permitted to volunteer to become a Sentinel when the 289th Military Police Company was attached to the Old Guard. The MP branch is a combat support unit and includes females.
In 1996, SGT Heather Johnson became the first female to earn the Tomb Guard Identification Badge. She volunteered for duty in June 1995 and earned her badge in 1996. However, SGT Johnson was not the only female Sentinel. Since then, there have been three additional female Sentinels awarded the Tomb Guard Identification Badge. SGT Danyell Wilson earned her badge in 1997, SSG Tonya Bell received hers in 1998, and SGT Ruth Hanks earned her badge, #643 in June 2015.
Several other units have since been attached to the Old Guard -- food service, transportation, medics, etc. -- so now females have an ever greater opportunity to become a Sentinel. Females must meet the same requirements as the male soldiers to be eligible to volunteer at the Tomb. the only difference is that females have a minimum height of 5'8" -- which is the same standard to be a member of the Old Guard.