Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Tomb of the Unknowns ~ Arlington National Cemetery


The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington Cemetery is guarded twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, regardless of the weather conditions. The Tomb Guards are members of the 3d United States Infantry Regiment.

A soldier seeking the honor of serving as a sentinel at the Tomb must possess exemplary qualities, to include American citizenship, a spotless record, and impeccable military bearing.

While on duty the sentinel crosses a 63-foot rubber surfaced walkway in exactly 21 steps. He then faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, turns again, and pauses an additional 21 seconds before retracing his steps. The 21 is symbolic of the highest salute according to dignitaries in
military and state ceremonies.

As a gesture against intrusion on their post, the sentinel always bears his weapon away from the Tomb.

Only under exceptional circumstances may the guard speak or alter his silent, measured tour of duty. He will issue a warning if anyone attempts to enter the restricted area around the Tomb, but first will halt and bring his rifle to port arms.

The Guard wears the Army Dress Blue Uniform, reminiscent of the color and style worn by soldiers during the late 1800’s. Tomb Guards are privileged to wear the Tomb Identification Badge on the right breast pocket. The design is an inverted open laurel wreath surrounding a representation of the front elevation of the Tomb. The words "Honor Guard" are engraved at the base of the badge. A guard leaving after at least nine months of service is entitled to wear the badge as a permanent part of the uniform. -From the Old Guard website.

The Unknowns are fallen Soldiers from World War I, World War II and Korea. With the advent of DNA technology, we will no longer have fallen warriors who are unidentified.

Every American should go to Arlington once in their lives. It is an awe inspiring experience. Visiting the Tomb of the Unknowns is a deeply emotional, and truly humbling, experience.

On Memorial Day, the Tomb of the Unknowns, receives the nation's respect and gratitude for all of those who have served, especially those who fell while in service to our country.


The WordSmith from Nantucket said...

Great, informative post. I wish I had included some of these photos in my video.

Sarge Charlie said...

This is a great post gazer, if you can go there and not cry, you have no emotions........

My best wishes for a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, please thank a soldier for what you have.....Freedom

Flag Gazer said...

Wordsmith - they are my photos, but you are welcome to use them.

Sarge - I cry EVERY time I go there! I don't know what you would be made of if you don't.

Lew Waters said...

It should also be noted that the Soldiers guarding the Tomb, in September 2003, during hurricane Isabel, remained on their posts throughout the storm.

Thank you for this, flag gazer. Very informative and great photos.

De'on Miller said...

These are great photos. It's a wonderful and breathtaking ceremony that should be seen by anyone who possibly has the chance.

I hope all of you have a safe Memorial Day and thanks for your service to our country and for our troops!

Flag Gazer said...

When we were there last October, we were fortunate to see three wreath ceremonies as well... It was incredibly moving.

Except for the last photo, we thank my little Olympus digital camera!!!

Mike's America said...

All those years living in Washington and I only went to Arlington when I was a tourist before moving there. There's so much I missed.

I used to drive by and look up at the white grave markers. It's very much hallowed ground.

Flag Gazer said...

Isn't it interesting how much we miss in the areas we live in. We have "tourist weekend" - we go do something a visitor might do in our area. I'm so glad we started it.

I have spent many amazing days walking Arlington Cemetery - it is a beautiful place in any season.