Soldiers dressed as Doughboys in processiont Nov 11 21 U.S. Army photo by Sgt Charlotte CarulliSoldiers dressed as Doughboys in procession on Nov 11 2021. U.S. Army photo by Sgt Charlotte Carulli

Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration

By Allison S. Finkelstein, Ph.D., Senior Historian, Arlington National Cemetery
Special to the  Doughboy Foundation web site

In 2021, Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) served as the designated government leader of the congressionally mandated Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemoration. This centennial recognized the 100th anniversary of the Tomb’s creation at ANC on November 11, 1921.

As the culmination of years of work by the entire ANC team, this yearlong commemoration produced a wealth of content for the public about the history and meanings of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, much of which focused on World War I (WWI). We are excited to share these resources with readers of the Doughboy Foundation Dispatch Newsletter so we can continue to raise awareness about the Tomb’s significance.

Over the next several months, we will be contributing a series of articles that highlight the different projects we created for the Tomb Centennial. Just as the 1921 ceremonies for the burial of the WWI Unknown Soldier involved mass public participation, the Tomb Centennial engaged the public through a variety of means: exhibits, publications, webinars, videos, digital media, an education program, and participatory ceremonies. For more information on the Tomb Centennial, please visit the following websites:

This month, we are sharing our Commemorative Guide to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In the years leading up to the Centennial, the ANC History Office undertook in-depth research into the history of the Tomb and its legacy. This research will eventually yield two publications.

Commemorative Guide cover screenshot

We released the first publication in November 2021: a richly illustrated commemorative guide, titled A Century of Honor: A Commemorative Guide to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH), it offers an interpretive overview of the Tomb’s creation and evolving meanings. To download this free Commemorative Guide, please visit: https://www.arlingtoncemetery.mil/Tomb100/Commemorative-Guide

In addition, the ANC History Office is producing a forthcoming official history of the Tomb, grounded in extensive archival research, also to be published by CMH. While making original contributions to historical scholarship on military commemoration, this book is also written in a style that will be accessible to the general public. Stay tuned for more information on this book when it is released.

We look forward to sharing more of our Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial projects and resources with the Doughboy Foundation Dispatch Newsletter in the coming months.