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Footsteps Of Love

My precious, precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Friday, September 16, 2005

The Guards

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk in front of the Tomb Of The Unknowns, and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twentyone 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 1.

3. Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent 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 requirements to be a guard?
He must be 5' 11" to 6' 4". His waist size cannot exceed 30". He must commit 2 years of his life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb and cannot drink alcohol on or off duty for the rest of his life. He cannot swear in public for the rest of his life and cannot disgrace the uniform (fighting) or the tomb in any way. After two years, he is given a wreath pin that is worn on his lapel, signifying that he served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of his life or give up the wreath pin. The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from his feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as he comes 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 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 in 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.

Here is the Sentinels site


  • At 5:54 PM, Blogger Cindy said…

    This was so interesting, and I bookmarked your blog so I can come back. if you'd like to check out my blog,Controversial Christian, you can find it at

  • At 4:59 AM, Anonymous rachel said…

    Actually these are not all true.

    The soldier does not do an "about face". He does two 90degree turns with a 21 second pause in between.

    Guards are changed every thirty minutes between 8 AM and 7 PM during the period from early Spring to early Autumn (April 1 through September 30), and every hour between 8 AM to 5 PM the rest of the year. At all other times (i.e., while the cemetery is closed), the guard is changed every two hours.

    Sentinels at the Tomb do not have to commit to serving there for any fixed period of time, and the average tour of duty is only about half the two year period claimed here. Like most servicemen, Tomb guards may live either on-base (at nearby Fort Myer) or off-base in housing of their choosing. There are no restrictions on guards' off-duty drinking.

    Guards can "swear in public" if they so desire but they can lose their badge (not pin) if they engage in behavior deemed unbecoming.

    A Tomb guard's behavior is not so stringently regulated that he is prohibited from speaking to anyone for a full six months (someone seems to have confused the Old Guard with a monastery!), and guards may do whatever they want (including watching TV) during their off-duty hours. But since any soldier wishing to become a sentinel must undergo rigorous training, including several hours a day of marching, rifle drill and uniform preparation, and every tomb sentinel is expected to be completely versed in the history of both the tomb and of Arlington National Cemetery (including knowing how to find the graves of all the prominent person buried in the cemetery), they don't necessarily have a lot of free time to devote to recreational activities.

    Sorry to fill your comments so much but the post was incorrect.

  • At 7:20 AM, Blogger forgivenforever said…

    I'm sure sorry it's so incorrect. I guess the link that I've also included in the same post is also incorrect; The Society Of The Honor Guard. Maybe you should contact them with the correct information.


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