As the Centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier arrives next week, we are pleased to be able to share another work of art that has been created especially for this celebration.
In honor of the 100th year anniversary of the founding of the Tomb, the Arlington, Virginia-based opera company UrbanArias has commissioned two outstanding Americans to create music and poetry for a new set of songs, called UNKNOWN. The touching and poignant poems are by Marcus Amaker, the Poet Laureate of Charleston, SC. The music is by the award-winning composer Shawn Okpebholo, the Vanguard Opera Composer at Chicago Opera Theater.
UrbanArias has joined forces with arts organizations from across the United States – including Opera Colorado, Opera Birmingham, The Dallas Opera, Minnesota Opera, and the Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts – to create a spectacular and dramatic film of the world premiere performance of these songs. The film of UNKNOWN will premiere online on November 11, 2021, commemorating both Veterans Day and the centennial of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and will be available free of charge for one month. Register to view the film at urbanarias.org
Watch a trailer for the film here:
Read Marcus Amaker’s poetry here:
Unknown Poems (urbanarias.org)
Read Shawn Okpebholo’s notes about writing Unknown here:
Those of you who will be attending the SHGTUS Reunion and Centenary activities the week of November 8-13 will have the chance to attend the film premiere screening. For more information, go to UNKNOWN Film Premiere Registration
Please spread the word among your networks of colleagues, family, and friends about this beautiful short film.
President & Public Affairs Chair
Society of the Honor Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (SHGTUS)
“Soldiers never die until they are forgotten, Tomb Guards never forget”
Dear Members and Friends,
I’m happy to report that the TOGA Board of Directors met in Arlington, VA on October 29th and 30th for a couple of important reasons. It felt great to be back on post after a long hiatus due to COVID restrictions. I want to thank Regimental Commander COL Patrick Roddy for all the help we received. I’ll give you a short recap of what happened while we were there.
On Friday the 29th we started the morning by laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and also a wreath at the TOGA memorial stone adjacent to the amphitheater there. A nor’easter was in full blow with a drenching rain and wind. It reminded us of how we all stood the marks back in the day. From there we moved to Charlie Guard where we presented the company with a table tennis table and equipment for their day room. This donation was made possible by a generous gift from the family of a fallen hero who was escorted to his final resting place in ANC by Charlie Guard. The family members actually attended the presentation. It was a special time for sure. From there we move to Conmy Hall where we recognized the achievements of several Soldiers and made some special presentations.
We first recognized the 2021 Best Warrior Soldier, SPC Little; Best Warrior NCO SSG Saavedra and Best Medic SGT Biggerstaff. Next was a presentation of the first-ever TOGA Educational Assistance $1,000 Scholarships. The winners were selected by a committee from essays submitted to TOGA. The recipients were 1LT Robert Moretz, SSG TaWei Chen and SSG Bailey Pogue. Next, we presented 55 solid brass buckles to the Caisson Platoon. These are given to graduates of the Military Basic Horsemanship Course. TOGA initiated this program several years ago. It is 100% funded now by Caisson Platoon alumni. TOGA holds the funds until more buckles are needed. Of special note, the Regiment named Marty Cassidy and Tyler Willbanks as “Distinguished Members of the Regiment”. A tremendous honor for both who have demonstrated an extraordinary level of support to the Regiment. Congratulations to Marty and Tyler! Well deserved. We closed out the ceremonies with presentations to COL Roddy and RSM Whittington. You can click on this link to see photos of the various activities and presentations – The Old Guard Association, October 29, 2021
On Saturday the 30th we conducted the first Annual General Meeting of the Association on a virtual platform. It was a bit of a challenge to get it set up because it was our first time but I have to say, I think it went off very well. We were able to elect the Directors for 2022 and conduct the other business of the Association. I encourage you to participate in the future.
I hope you enjoy the pictures of the activities. Know that COL Roddy and many other officers, NCOs and Soldiers told us how much they appreciated the support. These things are made possible because of you, the members and friends of TOGA. We could not do it without you. Please continue to help us by recruiting your friends to join TOGA. Share this information with them as an example of what we do. Thank you!
Flip Godfrey, President
You’re receiving this email because our records show you are a member of TOGA in good standing. As you know, the 2021 TOGA Reunion was cancelled. An important part of that event has always been the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Association where we elect Directors and act on other business of the Association. Only members like you, those in good standing, are eligible to vote on these matters.
We will conduct the AGM on Saturday, October 30th at 10AM Eastern on a virtual platform.
This email contains everything you need to know about how to log in with your computer or tablet to be a part of the meeting. We need you to review this carefully so you can participate in the meeting and so we can avoid problems when we execute the AGM on October 30th. Pay particular attention to the two sections below that outline “Here’s what we need you to do…”
We’ll be using two well-known and well tested virtual platforms to conduct the meeting. Those are Microsoft Teams and Simply Voting.
MS Teams is the application where you’ll login to the meeting. You’ll be able to see and hear everyone who attends. MS Teams allows you to click on a link to “Raise Hand” so that you can be recognized to speak. MS Teams allows our meeting manager to control your camera and microphone. Our meeting manager will unmute and then mute persons who have been recognized to speak. For anyone having difficulty speaking, they can post typed messages in the “Chat” function.
Simply Voting is the platform you’ll use to vote on matters that come before the membership like approving the last AGM minutes, electing Directors, and voting on By Laws changes. It allows us to create ballots to vote during the board member election and Yes/No options to vote on the other questions. This application provides us a way to clearly present questions or nominees to members and accurately count your votes.
We’ll be voting on at least four things at different times during the meeting. These are:
- Approval of the 2019 AGM Minutes
- Approval of two proposed By Laws amendments
- Election of Directors
Simply Voting tabulates the votes. TOGA has zero access to that process. Results will be available for all to see before the end of the meeting.
As I write this note, we have five vacancies and seven people running for election as board members. We will also have an opportunity to accept nominations from the floor. (Nominations from the floor must confirm that the nominee is willing to serve, if elected.) Each
nominee will be offered the opportunity to speak on camera for two minutes. You will be asked to vote for up to 5 people on the ballot.
Here’s what we need you to do in order to participate in the meeting:
- Very shortly, you will receive an email inviting you to preregister for the AGM. This email will come from The Old Guard Association and be titled Register for the 2021 AGM. Follow the directions to register. This step will help to eliminate problems on the day of the AGM.
- We will send you a calendar invite in MS TEAMS. This invite will come from Jeff Stitzel (firstname.lastname@example.org) and be entitled TOGA Annual Meeting. Ensure you fill out the information exactly the same way you did when you registered.
- Log in to the meeting using that link on 30 October 15-20 minutes ahead of the 10am start time. This will allow us to assist anyone having problems logging in. You must login prior to 10am or you will not get access to the meeting.
- If you can, use Microsoft Edge as the browser to join the meeting. The application will work with other browsers but you may not have full functionality. MS Teams will work with laptops, desktops, Macs and notebooks.
- Find the icon of a “hand”. Use this during the meeting to request to be recognized to speak. The meeting manager will turn on your camera and mic when you are recognized.
- Find the icon for “chat”. Use this to send a message that everyone will see. You can use the chat function at any time during the meeting to ask a question or make a statement. We will monitor the chat room throughout the meeting.
- If you are concerned about your ability to log in successfully, let us know as soon as you can or recruit a friend or family member to help you.
Here’s what we need you to do in order to vote during the meeting:
- Be ready to access this separate website while keeping MS Teams open.
- We will send you a link to access Simply Voting. This email will come from email@example.com and be titled “TOGA AGM 2021 – Vote 1 of X ”. Please note, there will be more than 1 vote and we will let you know from the meeting which vote is “up” at the time.
- Do not forward the email with the Simply Voting link to another email. This will prevent you from being able to access the voting function. We’re doing this to ensure that only those authorized to vote can do so.
- On October 30th, use the link in the email to open the Simply Voting application. Ensure that you open this application without closing the MS Teams application.
- Keep the Simply Voting site open after the first vote. All you have to do is refresh the site when you vote the second, third, and fourth time.
- If you mistakenly close the Simply Voting site after one of the votes, reopen the site using the link in the original email sent to you.
We’ve worked hard to balance the requirements to conduct the meeting virtually, enabling all members in good standing to participate, keeping any discussion organized, conducting the voting in a manner that eliminates any question about the credibility of the results, and limiting the cost of executing the meeting. Although many of us have become accustomed to conducting personal and professional business virtually over the past 18 months, there are some specific things the board and our members have to do to execute this meeting. The bottom line is that for you to participate and vote, you will have to do what we indicate above. We’re here to assist, but we need your help.
I’m looking forward to a great Annual Meeting and to “seeing” everyone who attends. I hope this format will be of interest to those who cannot normally attend the Reunion in person. Stay safe.
Flip Godfrey, President
To: All our members, family, friends and supporters
From: Flip Godfrey, President
Re: 2021 Reunion – Cancelled
This is a message I was hoping I would not have to send a second time after 2020. After working over the past several months to plan the 2021 Reunion, the TOGA Board of Directors and our Reunion Committee watched with dismay as the COVID situation changed quickly and dramatically. We convened a series of meetings over the past weeks focused exclusively on our reunion to explore our options. This culminated on Sunday evening when the Board voted unanimously to cancel our 2021 Reunion.
While it is the prudent thing to do, it is still very, very, disappointing. After more than a year of wearing masks and limiting our interactions with others, I know we were all looking forward to seeing each other’s faces, conducting a pass-in-review, interacting with the Regiment’s Soldiers, and a wide range of other things at our Annual Reunion. We on the Board, and our partners at the Regiment, did everything we could to put us in a position where we could all attend. I was particularly excited about the FDC alumni joining us this year. What a great addition that was going to be. However, when we closely evaluated the current situation, it became clear that we should not let our emotions cloud the responsible way ahead.
The bottom line is that we did not have the ability to execute the event with any semblance of what we’ve come to treasure about our reunions, all the credible indicators show the situation—both in terms of public health and restrictions in response to that—getting markedly worse by mid-September, and we would be hazarding the reputation of both TOG and TOGA and some of TOGA’s finances.
If you want to read more about the details of our deliberations and decision, I’ve pasted that at the end of this message. Most importantly, please read the following that addresses hotel cancellations, reunion refunds, and our plan to execute our General Membership Meeting and board elections in a virtual setting.
I want to this opportunity to thank Colonel Roddy and his team for all their efforts to support the reunion and TOGA during this difficult time.
See you in 2022!
Remember to cancel your hotel reservations. Note: You may still use your reservation if you choose to go to Arlington during the time the reunion was originally scheduled.
Ralph Jones, our Treasurer, will begin issuing refunds on Monday, August 23. Please allow 5 to 10 days for the credit to appear or the check to arrive. If you wish to donate all or a portion of your registration to TOGA, please let Ralph know prior to the 23rd by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at –
c/o Ralph Jones
2811 Oakton Manor Ct.
Oakton, VA 22124
Annual General Meeting of the Association – AGM
The Board of Directors is making arrangements to conduct the AGM in a virtual format. While we will provide more details in the next several days, we expect that will take place in the mid-September to mid-October timeframe. Keep an eye out for that information and please plan to participate in the governance of your Association. As a reminder, only those Charter, Regular (Annual) and Life Members who are current with their dues are eligible to vote. Please also consider updating your member profile at TOGA Membership – Login – The Old Guard Association! All communication about the AGM will be sent to your email address on file there.
Reunion Go – No Go Decision
The Board established a set of criteria we should use to guide us in our decision. These criteria were:
- The Regiment’s ability to support the reunion
- COVID constraints in Arlington and VA
- Restrictions that our hotel would likely have in place in mid-September
- Whether and to what extend TOGA might be exposed to liability if we executed the reunion
- The financial breakeven points associated with levels of attendance and planned activities
- The COVID transmission rates in Arlington
- The hotel’s willingness to negotiate cancellation penalties
- Any travel restrictions in other states with which our members would have to comply after they returned from the reunion
Out of those eight criteria, we found three were most compelling.
- Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall (JBMHH), MDW, & Regimental Support. JBMHH, MDW, and the Regiment’s focus has rightly been and will continue to be on maintaining readiness to accomplish their missions. With this in mind and after applying the policies that the JBMHH, MDW, and other commanders had or might put in place, our ability to plan for even limited interaction with the Regiment was not in place.
- Active-duty Soldiers would likely be restricted from participating in reunion activities
- No soldiers at the President’s Reception
- No chain of command at the Gala Dinner
- No CCG posting and retiring the colors at the Gala Dinner
- No TUSAB or FDC entertainment at the Gala Dinner
- No soldiers at the Gala Dinner
- No soldiers to accept awards
- Lunch in the DFAC was cancelled.
- The Pass In Review was cancelled
- Visiting the Old Guard Lounge at the O-Club was cancelled
- The FDC jam session on Friday night would likely not take place
- The FDC picnic and concert on Saturday afternoon was cancelled.
- RCO attendance at the General Membership Meeting would be only via Zoom
- Masks would be required on all bus transportation.
- Masks would be required for everyone visiting the Army Museum.
- Wreath ceremonies at TUS and the TOGA Memorial would likely be reduced force
- Active-duty Soldiers would likely be restricted from participating in reunion activities
- COVID Constraints in Arlington and VA.
- All credible projections indicating increased transmission and hospitalizations around mid-September (see graphs below)
- It’s likely that elected leaders would impose a requirement to wear masks indoors and limit indoor capacity constraints
- Already a requirement on military installations in the region to wear masks indoors
- Potential Liability
- Executing in the face of current forecasts might expose TOGA to suits
- Executing in the face of current forecasts
- Might expose TOGA to allegations of unwise and imprudent behavior
- Might cause those in the chain of command and the public to question the Regiment’s prudence for their role supporting our reunion