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RootBeer 03-09-2011 03:03 PM

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
I'm not sure if everyone can see what's posted in the Military area and wanted to pass this along because it is a worthwhile read and worth it for folks to copy and send to their friends.


This is really an awesome sight to watch if you've never had the chance.

Very fascinating.

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 timeand, if not, why not? He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. 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. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to? 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".

They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way. After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.

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.

The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone nor watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.

Among the notables are:
President Taft
Joe Lewis {the boxer}
Medal of Honor winner Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII and of Hollywood fame.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty..


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 service person.

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930. God Bless and keep them. I'd be very proud if this email reached as many as possible. We can be very proud of our young men and women in the service no matter where they serve.

HerRam 03-09-2011 03:39 PM

That is incredible! What a job with such dedication I couldn't imagine. I was reading that there probably will not be any additions to this tomb, due to technological advancements and forensics, but even still. what a memorial!

tmerritt530 03-09-2011 03:55 PM

They have all my respect!

RamTech 03-09-2011 04:15 PM

Check this link for a great video of the changing of the guard.

Be stupid enough to cross the rail at the tomb.

Here's one of the soldiers mentioned above that guarded the tomb during the storm.

CdnoilRAM 03-09-2011 04:16 PM

wow, now that's what you call dedication.

RamTech 03-09-2011 04:30 PM

Some of those facts are a bit off. Snopes debunked fact from fiction here. I'm not trying to step on your toes here, RB but I just want to make sure the story of the Old Guard is told true.

HerRam 03-09-2011 04:41 PM


jcasey10 03-09-2011 04:41 PM

I've been there before and witnessed them change the guards. It's truly an honor. Those guards are extremely dedicated.

RamTech 03-09-2011 04:50 PM

To put things in perspective about the number of soldiers that wear the tomb badge, consider this - Since WW II there have been 674* U.S. Army Medal Of Honor receipients but only 525* men authorized to wear the tomb guards badge.

*To the best of my knowledge based on the most recent info I could locate.

RootBeer 03-09-2011 05:59 PM


Originally Posted by RamTech (Post 466369)
Some of those facts are a bit off. Snopes debunked fact from fiction here. I'm not trying to step on your toes here, RB but I just want to make sure the story of the Old Guard is told true.


No toes stepped on. I generally check things out but I knew this has been around the net for several years and figured some of the statements might either be old, ie the number of badges, or maybe even a bit exaggerated.

But the true story to me is the dedication of the Sentinels aka the Old Guard.

I was stationed at Bolling AFB in DC 85 - 88 so I had ample opportunity to not only see these fine soldiers do their duty, but also to meet with many during the normal course of my duties around DC.

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