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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Answer Plus Some to a Jeopardy Question

I usually hesitate to run something in full because of copyright law, but the author of this viral e-mail appears to give permission to do so in the last sentence of his post. I think it was about 1962 or 63 I saw this ceremony. It is impressive, even when one doesn't know the details.

Did you know this?
On Jeopardy the other night, the final question was "How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns" ---- All three missed it --

This is really an awesome sight to watch if you've never had the chance.Very fascinating.

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.

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 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 Lewis {the boxer}

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 serviceperson. 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.

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1 comment:

  1. One of our most prestigious, dedicated units without a doubt.
    But there are numerous inaccuracies in this posting that have been well documented by the Old Guard and the Arlington Cemetery. Please research, correct, update or remove.

    USArmy SSG Ret

    Some points for reference/correction:
    The 3rd Inf (The Old Guard) is the oldest Active Duty Infantry Regiment in the Army (1794) and is the only unit allowed to parade with fixed bayonets.

    The guard technically makes two 90 degree facing movements (not an about-face) at the ends, each turning towards the tomb. 21 steps South across the mat, East turn then North, waiting 21 seconds each turn; then 21 steps North, turn East then South and repeat. One revolution should take 2 minutes.

    His rifle is away from the tomb signifying he stands between the tomb and any threat.

    Guards change every 30 minutes only April through September between 8a-7p, in the Winter and at night it's 1 hour shifts.

    The badge (not a lapel pin) is actually awarded as soon as they qualify to "walk", usually a couple of months after chosen to serve, but they must walk for 9 months before they can permanently wear it. But, it can be taken away (EVEN AFTER LEAVING THE SERVICE) if the soldier fails to maintain the "highest military standards". Currently there are 525 recipients.

    The talking, drinking and swearing are only limitations while ON DUTY, and I've never heard of the no talking/tv thing and I don't think they live under the tomb, though they spend most of their day there.

    Finally, they started round the clock watch in 1937 with civilian/provisional guards and on 6 April 1948 the Sentinel Guards we are familiar with today. One break during the before that it was only guarded during daylight hours. Nonetheless, the discipline and dedication of these soldiers is certainly admirable; through Hurricane Isabelle 2003, blizzards in 09 & 10, and Hurricane Irene this year they haven't missed a single minute of watch since 1948. (They weren't ordered off their post in 03, but they were given permission to seek shelter. They declined.)



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