"ETERNAL REST GRANT THEM O LORD AND LET PERPETUAL LIGHT SHINE UPON THEM"
|Question 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.
Question 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.
Question 3: Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.
Question 4: Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time?
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.
Question 5: How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Question 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 inches.
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 or 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)
and 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.
|Recently, Tomb Guards from the US Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) were presented with 4 ceremonial M17 pistols at Arlington National Cemetery. These works of art were created by SIG SAUER specifically for use by the Guards. |
This ceremony marks the first use of the M17, which will accompany the Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers as they stand guard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
The unique distinguishing features for the M17 Tomb of the Unknown Pistols include: Pistol Names: each of the four pistols bears the name of Silence, Respect, Dignity, or Perseverance and is featured on the dust cover. Dignity and Perseverance represent The Sentinels Creed, and Silence and Respect represent the request to the public by Arlington National Cemetery when visiting the Tomb of the Unknown, and during the Changing of the Guard; Custom Wood Grips: in 1921 the chosen Unknown was transported to the United States of America aboard the USS Olympia. The custom wood grips are made with wood from the USS Olympia and include the crest of the 3rd Guard, Tomb of the Unknown Soldier identification badge inset; Cocking Serrations: XXI cocking serrations are engraved on the slide to signify the twenty-one steps it takes for the Tomb Sentinels to walk by the Tomb of the Unknowns and the military honor of a 21 Gun Salute; Sight Plate: an engraved impression of the Greek Figures featured on the east panel of the Tomb Peace, Victory, and Valor are featured on the sight plate; Sights: a glass insert made with marble dust from the Tomb of the Unknown fills the sights of the ceremonial pistols; Engraved Magazines: the 21-round magazines feature an aluminum base plate engraved with the names of the Greek figures featured on the Tomb of the Unknown Peace, Victory, and Valor and include a name plate on the bottom of the magazine engraved with the Tomb Sentinel badge number. Serial Numbers: the pistols are serialized with a unique set of serial numbers that incorporate items of significance to the Old Guard: LS represents line six of the Sentinels Creed, My standard will remain perfection; 02JUL37 to signify the first 24-hour guard posted at the Tomb of the Unknown on July 3, 1937; 21 to signify the 21 steps it takes the Tomb Sentinels to walk by the Tomb of the Unknown, and the military honor of a 21 Gun Salute. The full series of M17 Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Pistols serial numbers are LS02JUL37A21 (Silence), LS02JUL37B21 (Respect), LS02JUL37C21 (Dignity), LS02JUL37D21 (Perseverance).
"A veteran is someone who, at one point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to The United States of America for any amount, up to and including their life."
Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each Soldier, Sailor, Marine and Airman who died to protect it.