Centennial Projects

National Salute

The SHGTUS Centennial Committee invites you to reach out into your community to become part of the National Salute this year.

The Centennial Committee is proud to announce the continuation of one of the many projects currently under development as we approach the 100th Anniversary of the burial of an Unknown American Soldier who fought and died in World War I, and is buried in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS) in Arlington National Cemetery.

The National Salute, re-instituted in 2015, is a means to show our deep respect for our Unknown Soldiers buried in the plaza of the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery. On the 11th Hour, of the 11th Day, of the 11th Month in 2021 Americans across the United States and foreign lands, will pause to recognize those who have sacrificed and those who will sacrifice in the future in the defense of America’s “Freedom and Democracy.” This was first conducted during the internment ceremonies in 1921, and broadcast to over 150,000 citizens across the nation who were listening to the ceremony via a live “phone call” by AT&T.

City, town and church bells have served our country and its citizenry from the very beginning. They can do so again. Imagine a silent afternoon in your community where you start to hear the bells toll. Steady and resounding, they ring and are joined by other bells, until all you hear is a crescendo of bells echoing through your community. Then you remember, it’s November 11th at 11:00 a.m. You stop what you are doing and count 21 seconds, standing in solidarity with everyone else in the U.S.A. And as the bells slowly start to fade away, perhaps you hear the haunting wail of a lone trumpeter playing ‘Taps’. A silence once again envelops your community, and you realize that the bells were telling everyone that a moment of remembrance had arrived. (In keeping with the solemnity of the moment, the observance can be marked by a silent count of 21 seconds in recognition of that number’s association with America’s highest honor.)

The Centennial of the TUS will be that National Moment when all of America pauses to remember and to unite with those that have secured our most cherished beliefs and our National identity with their blood and treasure. They will renew their acquaintance with Washington’s deepest desire for National unity; with Lincoln’s faith that our embracing the belief that “…all men are created equal….” connects each of us to every patriot grave and with the courage of Congressman Hamilton Fish to bring all of America together.

This commemoration provides to those who abide in our Land a unique opportunity to celebrate America’s unshakeable commitment to the dignity of man as was so defiantly set forth in the Declaration of Independence. It is an opportunity to express individually and collectively, their sense of service and national unity; and their thanks for what this country has done for them. This powerful concept and belief are witnessed every day at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, where, as Congressman Hamilton Fish intended, it is a place to serve as a focal point, where all of America can come together.

We want to add you to the national list of participants!

Ready to help? Creating a simple ceremony that fits your community should include:

Count Honors – Be creative with a 21 Count Honors (bell ringing with five second interval between counts) — by all available means — gun salute (land and sea), church bells, rifle salute, ROTC, police and fire dept. sirens, etc. This calling to “Attention” of the freedom loving people of the world for purposes of rendering the highest honors to those Americans who have paid the ultimate price for freedom. All military installations on land, at sea and in the air should use whatever means they have to celebrate and honor those who have given their life for this country. Communities are invited to pay respects to the honored dead. Religious organizations, patriotic organizations, scouting organizations, schools, communities, libraries, industrial and business entity of all sizes, unions, communications media, social media, transportation services and individuals across the land are invited to participate in these highest honors. The idea is for the American people to pause, show their gratitude, and render their highest honors to the people’s unsung valor.

Great Silence – for two minutes, the first minute for those who have already sacrificed and the second minute for those who will sacrifice in the future with their lives for the American way of life. This two-minute silence ceremony is a reenactment of the respect shown by our nation during the establishment of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on the 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month, 1921. It is a universal feeling for those who gave their all and for whom we can never fully repay. It is a grateful nation pausing to honor our Nation’s promise to never ever forget or to forsake America’s glorious and immortal dead and missing. Itis a centennial commemoration due those who “gave their tomorrow for our today.”

Taps – The sounding of Taps across the nation and around the free world. This easily recognized emotive and powerful twenty-four notes bugle call is the international melody for “lights out” — final resting for deceased soldiers. Here we will never forget your sacrifice. And here we commit ourselves to maintain a country worthy of your sacrifice. This synchronized playing of Taps around the free world by individuals and organizations is a solemn calling for the defense of free peoples worldwide.

Your community can use different models and venues in honoring the Centennial of this nation’s symbol of patriotism. Some individuals/organizations will be able to conduct formal ceremonies, while others may be less formal. We encourage all communities to commemorate, as they like, this transcending moment in the life of the United States of America. Like personal birthdays, it is a snapshot to celebrate the past and hope for the future.

Here are some examples of venues for commemorative ceremonies that may be helpful in planning for Thursday, November 11, 2021:

  • The Pledge of Allegiance
  • The creeds, oaths, pledges as appropriate
  • Reading of the Congressional Resolution
  • Reading of the Presidential Proclamation
  • Remarks by leaders, e.g. governor, college president, scout leaders, religious leaders, high school principals and/or class presidents, post/station/base commanders, naval vessel commanders, business leaders, and leaders of patriotic and service organizations.
  • Band/chorus/vocal selections
  • The National Anthem

Following the last note of the National anthem, the National Salute will begin with the first round of the 21 gun/count salute occurring at the 11th hour. The two minutes of the Great Silence will begin following the 21st gun/rifle/drum beat, church bell count; after which Taps will be sounded.

Never Forget Garden

This project, also referred to as the “Never Forget Garden” is a nationwide invitation to all Americans and freedom loving people to plant gardens as a visual way to represent America’s unwavering commitment to our sacred duty to recognize, remember, and honor our veterans and their families now and for many years to come. The Society feels that every flower, plant, or tree planted will be a symbol of love and act of unity. In the timeless language of flowers, your Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Never Forget Garden will quietly trumpet the message that must never weaken: one of America’s sacred commitment to never, ever, forget or forsake our veterans or the principles that define us as Americans.

For information on the marker and how to purchase: /general/never-forget-garden-marker

We encourage you individually, and through public and private institutions, to visit our website and download the free document that details the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Never Forget Garden project, and provides suggestions on how you can participate starting now. We hope you will enlist others to join in bringing unity to our national identity in a unique way that will transcend our political, social, religious or regional differences. When you start planning your Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Never Forget Garden now, you will be able to cherish it in the Spring, throughout the Summer into the Fall and early Winter.

  • Download the "Circular Letter" HERE
  • Download the "Project" HERE
  • Download "Getting Started" HERE
  • Download "Choosing Plants" HERE
  • Download "Recommended Rose Names" HERE
  • Download "Simple NFG Example" HERE
  • Download "Detailed NFG Example" HERE
  • Download "Detailed NFG Example 2" HERE

USPS Stamp

In April 2015, the Society sent a letter Postal Service Stamp letter to the United States Postal Service requesting a stamp commemorating the Centennial Anniversary (1921-2021) of the interment of the Unknown Soldier from World War 1 commemorating the end of the “war to end all wars” on the eleventh hour – of the eleventh day – of the eleventh year (November 11, 1921).

The goal of the Society is to make certain that the individuals that made the ultimate sacrifice of their lives and their identity for our freedom are not forgotten, and that American citizens understands this price of freedom and never forgets their sacrifice.

The United States Postal Service stamp would insure that the American public would be educated about the Tomb and the United States of America unknown war heroes buried in the plaza of the Memorial Amphitheater.

In August of 2015 the USPS advised the Society that our proposal will be submitted for review and consideration before their Advisory Committee, which is responsible for reviewing stamp proposals and making recommendations to the Postmaster General.

You can contact the Postmaster General and ask him to approve the proposed stamp:

United States Postal Service customer contact number, 1-800-ASK-USPS


Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee
475 L’Enfant Plaza, Washington DC 20260.

Boy Scout and Girl Scout Merit Badges

Members of our committee have reached out to both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America to develop a Tomb of the Unknown Soldier related merit badge that would provide a more in- depth experience for these future leaders, and would be an important component of our nation’s centennial commemoration.

Historical Aircraft

We are researching and he historical documents, photographs, and items surrounding the transportation of the Korean War Unknown Soldier, Trans-Pacific Candidate, and the Vietnam Unknown Soldier by United States Air Force (USAF) or United States Navy (USN) aircraft. We hope to create a presentation on what we have found during Centennial Week in 2021.

If you took part in any of these events or were crew members on the aircraft, please contact the Centennial Committee Chairman HERE so we can capture your experiences and share them with America.

Independence Seaport Museum

The committee is working closely with both organizations to highlight their involvement with Unknown Soldiers in 1921, 1958, and 1984. Check back for updates on our progress.

Lapel Pin

The Centennial Lapel pin is pictured at the top of this webpage. The first project the committee tackled was the design and creation of our Centennial Lapel Pin. THe pin was designed by one of the committee members who wanted to capture the feeling of what a visitor sees when standing on the steps of the plaza and looks toward the Tomb and the crypts.

There is much symbolism designed into the lapel pin starting with the three crypts at the base of the Tomb. The green trees behind and east of the Tomb are reminiscent of the summer days in Arlington. The dark blue outer ring is reminiscent of the blouse the Sentinel wears, which was authorized by the Adjutant & Inspector General’s Office on March 27, 1821. The light blue sky represents the color of the Infantry, paying homage to the Sentinel’s parent Regiment, the 3d United States Infantry (The Old Guard) which is the oldest Infantry Regiment in the Army and has provided Sentinels who guard the Tomb since 1948. The black numerals in the dates 1921 to 2021, and the inverted gold wreath represent mourning.

These pins are available to the public and the proceeds will help fund other Centennial Committee projects in the future. Information on how you can purchase a Centennial Lapel Pin and support the Society can be found by visiting our Quartermaster Store.

Historical Ships

In conjunction with our efforts with historical aircraft, we are also researching the historical documents, photographs, and items surrounding the transportation of the Unknown Soldiers by USN vessels by the USS Blandy, USS Boston, USS Canberra, and other support vessels as identified during the research. Midshipmen from the United States Naval Academy are assisting us with this project.

If you took part in any of these events or were crew members on these historic ships, please contact the Centennial Committee Chairman HERE so we can capture your experiences and share them with America.

US Capitol Historical Society Project

The committee is working closely with both organizations to highlight their involvement with Unknown Soldiers in 1921, 1958, and 1984. Check back for updates on our progress.

The Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Tool Box

Working hand in hand with our Education Outreach program (Click HERE), the Centennial Committee began developing a Tool Box that will be sent to school across America in 2015. The is a box that will contain items selected by the Society that will facilitate the continuance or sharing the experience of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery.

This project is currently in the second phase where the creation of the actual box is being tested, and a test box will be available at the Society’s Reunion for review by the members.

Recommended Reading

  • Declaration of Independence, July 1776 – Click HERE
  • General George Washington’s letter from Valley Forge, December 1777 – Click HERE
  • General George Washington’s letter to the Newport Hebrew Congregation – Click HERE
  • President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, November 1863 – Click HERE
  • President Abraham Lincoln’s “Electric Cord Speech”, July 4th – Click HERE
  • General Douglas MacArthur’s Farewell Speech, May 1962 – Click HERE
  • Dr. John Hamre speech to SHGTUS members, November 1999 – Click HERE

The above documents and speeches capture the essence of America’s commitment to democracy, to the sacrifices her citizens are willing to go to, and the importance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

We urge you to become reacquainted with these word and thoughts. We know you will be inspired once again.

For further information on how you may help us, please contact the Centennial Committee by clicking HERE.

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.