Thursday, October 14, 2004

The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier

On duty at the Tomb.

UPDATE ON THE FOLLOWING POST: Much of the information here is inaccurate. For reliable information about the Tomb of The Unknowns, go to this June 14, 2005 post. My apologies for the mistake.

Facts: The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

I received the following information in an e-mail from a friend and am passing it along.

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?

21 steps, alluding 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, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

6. What are the required physical traits of the guard?

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 anyway.

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 WWI, 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.

I don't usually suggest that many emails be forwarded, but I'd be very proud if this one reached as many as possible. We can be very proud of our young men and women in the service no matter where they serve.

God Bless and keep them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

On July 4, 1994 I placed a wreath at the Tomb on behalf of Wisconsin 4-H. After reading your post I have a greater understanding of its significance. 

Posted by utech

Thursday, October 14, 2004 10:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This info about the unknow soldier ( is inaccurate.

and again,
and, here

Posted by mccoytest

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 7:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear mccoytest: Please see the first paragraph of the post. I learned of the error and referred readers to the correct informaton. Apparently you missed that correction. 

Posted by The Hedgehog

Tuesday, June 28, 2005 10:15:00 PM  
Anonymous garrett Greethurst said...

Hello there

Posted by Garrett Greethurst

Wednesday, May 17, 2006 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im writing a paper for school so that when I go to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier I will be able to lay the wreath.I was just wonder what the significance of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is. I think I have a good understanding but I need some clearing up.

Posted by janell

Tuesday, February 06, 2007 4:11:00 PM  

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