Centennial Projects

National Salute Project

HERE is the 2021 National Salute Memo and how you can participate.


One of the first Centennial Committee projects as we approached the 100th Anniversary of the burial of an Unknown American Soldier who fought and died in World War I is the National Salute.

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.

The National Salute, re-instituted in 2015, is a means to show our deep respect for our Unknown Soldiers buried in the east plaza of the Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington National Cemetery. On the 11th Hour, of the 11th Day, of the 11th Month we ask Americans across the United States and foreign lands, to pause and recognize those who have sacrificed and those who will sacrifice in the future in the defense of America’s “Freedom and Democracy.”

This commemoration provides a unique opportunity to celebrate America’s unshakeable commitment to those who serve and sacrifice.

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

  1. 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. 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.
  2. 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 reaffirms what President Harding did during the funeral of the Unknown Soldier on November 11, 1921. 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.
  3. Taps – This easily recognized emotive and powerful twenty-four notes bugle call is the international melody for “lights out” — final resting for deceased soldiers. 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.

We invite you to reach out into your community to become part of the National Salute this year.

Never Forget Garden Project

This project is a nationwide invitation to all Americans and freedom loving people to plant gardens as a visual way to represent 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 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 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 Never Forget Garden now, you will be able to cherish it in the Spring, throughout the Summer into the Fall and early Winter.

United States Postal Service Stamp Project

In April 2015, the Society sent a 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. 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 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 by calling the United States Postal Service customer contact number, 1-800-ASK-USPS. You can also send a letter in support to the:

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

Letter in support from North Carolina Congressman
Letter in support from the Governor of Arkansas
Article in support from the National Rural Letter Carriers of America
Letter in support from Indiana Congressman

Independence Seaport Museum

Throughout 2021, Independence Seaport Museum will honor the Centennial Anniversary of the Unknown Soldier’s journey home by sharing stories, presenting programming, hosting discussions, and premiering digital content highlighting not only the Unknown Soldier’s story, but how important the concepts of home and loss are as it relates not only to civilians, but also veterans, active-duty military, and military families.

Cruiser Olympia and the Unknown Soldier | Independence Seaport Museum (phillyseaport.org)

Lapel Pin Project

Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Logo
Lapel pin designed by former Tomb Guards

The Centennial Lapel Pin is pictured is the first project the committee tackled. The pin was designed by one of the committee members and former Tomb Guard, who wanted to capture the feeling of what a visitor sees when standing on the steps of the plaza and looks toward the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the crypts. There is much symbolism designed into the lapel pin:

  • The three crypts are 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 Aircraft Project

We are researching the historical documents, photographs, and items surrounding the transportation of the Trans-Atlantic Candidate, Trans-Pacific Candidate, Korean War Unknown Soldier, 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.

Historical Ships Project

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 the naval forces of our nation, including the US Marines who stood the vigil while the missions were underway. We are working closely with the Independence Seaport Museum, Navy History and Heritage Command, and the USCGC Ingham Maritime Museum. Each time the Unknown Soldier was brought home to the mainland it was by the US Navy:

  • USS Olympia (1921)
  • USS Blandy, USS Boston, USS Canberra (1958), and the US Coast Guard escort ship USCGC Ingham (1958)
  • USS Brewton (1984)
  • or other naval assets identified during the research.

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.

To read about the difficult journey home of the World War I Unknown Soldier and the Olympia's Marines from October 25 to November 9, 1921 please visit HERE.

To read about the 1958 mission to bring home the World War II and Korean War Unknown Soldiers please visit HERE.

US Capitol Historical Society Project

Working beside the US Capitol Historical Society we will be highlighting the important part the capitol played in the reception and burial of the Unknown Soldiers. We are working to develop articles, webinars, and virtual events for each of the events that took place in November of 1921, May of 1958, and May of 1984 at the US Capitol.

Suggested Reading

The following is a list of suggested books or articles that provide historical context about the Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. If there is an addition that you feel should be added to the list, please contact the webmaster.

Published Articles by the Centennial Committee

Related Articles





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.