Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guards in Arlington National Cemetery are members of the 3rd United States Infantry Regiment, nicknamed “The Old Guard”.
The sentinels are assigned to guard the monument to ensure the respect and security of one of America’s most sacred symbols.
The guards adhere to a solemn and precise ritual called the changing of the guard ceremony.

  1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?
    21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.
  2. How long does he hesitate after his about-face to begin his return walk and why?
    21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1
  3. Why are his gloves wet?
    His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.
  4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?
    He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb out of respect for the dead.
    After his march across the path, he executes an about-face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.
  5. How often are the guards changed?
    Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
  6. Other interesting facts about the guard:

For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5′ 10″ and 6′ 2″ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30.”
The average length of duty for guards at the memorial is 18 months.
The guards hold no rank. This is because the rank of the unidentified dead is unknown and it would be inappropriate for the Unknowns to be guarded by someone who outranks them.
The guard is awarded a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb.
There are only 525 presently worn.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet.
There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.
There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform.
Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

All off-duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
A guard must memorize 7 pages of history on Arlington National Cemetery and then recite it verbatim before being granted “a walk”.
Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe Lewis {the boxer} and
Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most decorated soldier of WWII} of Hollywood fame.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm.
On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment.
They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!” Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a serviceperson.
The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

We can be very proud of our young men and women in the service no matter where they serve.
God Bless and keep them from harm.




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