Second Annual National Moment of Silence for The Unknown Soldier on November 11th at 11 a.m.
Throughout Maryland and Washington, D.C., on Friday, November 11, 2016, at 11:00 a.m., all houses of worship—churches, synagogues, mosques, temples and meeting houses—are asked to observe a 2 minute Moment of Silence and/or toll bells 21 times to commemorate the sacrifice of the World War I Unknown Soldier interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
World War I, the “war to end all wars,” was officially ended in the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918. Exactly three years later, on November 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 informally as Tomb Guards, has kept continuous and silent vigil over this monument to sacrifice 24 hours a day, 7days a week, 365 days a year, 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. We are made up of current and former Tomb Guards, as well as patriotic citizens.
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 at the TUS: WWII, 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 instead honoring all those still missing in action or taken prisoner—Missing in Action or Prisoner of War (MIA/POW) because currently there are 83, 061 Service Members from World War II, Korea, the Cold War, and Middle East Wars that remain listed as MIA/POW. The Department of Defense (DOD) continues to search for and identify these personnel. Since January 1st of this year DOD has accounted for 59 personnel . This underscores the larger purpose of the TUS.
In sponsoring the legislation that created the TUS, Congressman Hamilton Fish viewed the TUS as a focal point to bring all Americans together—that it’s meaning be not limited to the Great War (WW 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 American’s 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 service and sacrifice. It has become a place, like no other, where Americans demonstrate their unshakeable commitment to support and defend America: to express their profound gratitude, respect, pride and love for America’s war dead and missing in action, past, present and future. As General Carl Vuono has said, “It is a national symbol of sacrifice for this great Nation.” It is in this spirit, that we seek to prepare now for a suitable commemoration of the TUS and to a larger national discussion on service and sacrifice.
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 (Writ large) 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.”