Friday, November 11, 2005



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.
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." 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
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.

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