ZenPundit
Tuesday, October 05, 2004
 
DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY: GUARDING THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

A friend from my grad school days sent me the following information....

THE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

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." Other requirements of the Guard: 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 {fighting} 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 E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most decorated soldier of WWII} 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 serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930."
 
Comments:
Duty. Honor. Fidelity. Saying something, meaning it, doing it, living it. I had no idea that this is what it meant to be a guard at the Tomb. All military personnel have my utmost and undying respect and now I have another reason to feel pride at being privileged enough to live in the same country as them. God Bless America.
 
I've been there five or six times and was part of a group doing a wreath laying ceremony once. It was always extremely moving, particularly on Memorial and Veteran's days when many vets were present in the crowd - you could see the occasional medal of honor winner or white haired old men bedecked with medals and walking with canes. However I was not aware of these requirements for the Guard either or their stringency.
 
i was very moved by this information! very, very moved!!
 
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