The Ultimate Sacrifice

Tomb Unknown Soldier
Enscription on the tomb reads: “Here rests in honored Glory an American soldier known  but to God”

What can a people do on behalf of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to provide the priceless freedoms which we enjoy? What can we do to honor those who stormed the beaches, climbed the cliffs in a rain of gunfire, fought in the jungles, the deserts, the treeless and seemingly God forsaken mountains and across the deep blue seas? How could we EVER re-pay the blood spilt for our freedoms on every continent around the globe? How could we do it? This is how, we can remember and we can thank God for their sacrifice and we can stand up in their stead to protect the freedoms we still enjoy and fight back against the forces which endeavor to infringe on our freedoms today.

What a wonderful idea it was after WWI that an unidentified soldier would be brought home and buried in our most famous cemetery Arlington National Cemetery. With so many families not able to claim the body of their loved who perished in battle, the very thought that just maybe the one who lay in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was their loved one, provided a place in our homeland to focus their hearts and also a place to visit and pay their respects. Since WWI there have been other soldiers from WWII, Korea and Vietnam laid to rest there for the very same reason.

One of the most striking memorials to the fallen soldier is the faithful service of those who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Here are some interesting facts:

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

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

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.

Tomb Unknown Soldier2

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. They 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 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.

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.

God Bless and keep them. We can be very proud of our men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice and those who served and those currently in the service no matter where they serve. Find and attend a Memorial Day service in your area this year and pay your respects. Start a family tradition. It will pay dividends as your offspring will develop a love for their country and respect for those who serve.

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