From: Dave Assels
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 2004 10:45:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier


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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.

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2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?

There are two sharp 90° moves, 21 seconds
each, for the same reasons as number one.

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3. Why are his gloves wet?

His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

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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.
At each turn he moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

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5. How often are the guards changed?

If the cematary is open, every thirty minutes April
through September, every hour October through
May. Every two hours if the cemetary is closed.

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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."

The shoes are built up so the soles and heels are of equal
height. This keeps their back straight and perpendicular
to the ground. There are taps on the heels and toes to
prevent wear on the soles and to allow smooth turns.

Sentinels undergo rigorous training, including several hours
a day of marching, rifle drill and uniform preparation.

Every tomb sentinel is expected to be completely versed in the
history of both the tomb and Arlington National Cemetery, and
how to find the graves of all prominent persons buried there.

Among the notables are: Presidents Taft and Kennedy, the boxer
Joe Louis, and the most decorated soldier of WWII, Audie Murphy.

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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 1937.

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God Bless and keep them.

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