Throughout Oregon, on Friday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m., houses of worship and fire departments are asked to observe the 21- second moment of silence and/or toll bells 21 times to commemorate the sacrifice of the Unknown Soldier interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
World War I, the “wars to end all wars,” was officially ended in the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. Exactly three years later, on Nov. 11, 1921, an unknown American soldier from that war was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va.
A corps of soldier sentinels, known as Tomb Guards, has kept continuous, silent vigil 24 hours a day, seven days a week, since 1937. The Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to protecting and enhancing the welfare and image of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Tomb) and the soldiers (tomb guards) who stand guard, past and present.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (TUS) is nearing its 100th anniversary. It was established after World War I as a resting place for one Unknown Soldier. On three instances since then, the remains of unknown servicemen have been interred: World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The last set of remains was removed after modern science identified the serviceman, but a marker was placed honoring all those still missing in action or taken prisoner (MIA/POW) because currently there are 83,120 service members from the World War II, Korean, Cold War, and Middle East Wars that remain listed as Missing in Action/ Prisoner of War. The Department of Defense continues to search for and identify these personnel. Since Jan. 1, 2016, the remains of 35 personnel for the period of 1942 to 1970 have been located and identified.
In sponsoring the legislation that created the TUS, Congressman Hamilton Fish viewed the TUS as a focal point to bring all Americans together — that its meaning be not limited to the Great War (World War I) and the exclusive claim of that war’s veterans. In this way, he followed the tradition of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in fostering a unifying American identity transcending the differences of politics, race, or religion. He appealed to the moral authority of the principles for which Americans’ sons and daughters fought and died so that America would live. This singular act linked all Americans with the graves of every patriot — those who fought in the American Revolution to those who defend us now and those who will defend our homeland in the future.
The TUS has become that place where America demonstrates its commitment and sacred connection to those who have secured such principles by services and sacrifice. It has become a place, like no other, where Americans demonstrate their unshakeable commitment to support and defend America. As General Carl Vuono has said, “It’s a national symbol of sacrifice for this great nation.”
Our purpose is to help the American people and their government to pause and recognize the first 100 years of this nation’s national military monument. We now plan for the next 100 years of honoring the sacrifice of past, present, and future American Soldiers in defense of our freedom by pledging that, “We will never, ever forget. Even if we don’t know your name, whoever is lying there, America will not forget.”
For more information, contact SHGTUS Chaplain Chuck Shacochis at email@example.com, or 443-928-7593 or the Public Affairs director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
11:11 a.m. Nov. 11 in Hood River
The community is invited to Hood River’s Ty Taylor Fire Station to observe a 21-second moment of silence and 21-bell salute, to commemorate the sacrifice of the Unknown Soldier interred at Arlington National Ceremony. The National Salute is happening throughout Oregon on Nov. 11, and is organized locally by retired State Trooper Gavin McIlvenna of Hood River, vice president of the Society of the Honor Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS). The city council recently proclaimed Nov. 11 as National Salute Day, and urged “all citizens to come together on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. and ring our community’s bells and support efforts to commemorate and remember the Unknown Soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery.”