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Tomb of the Unknowns - Honor Guard


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Elsewhere I have posted photos of my first visit to the Marine Corps Memorial Iwo Jima monument in the Washington DC area (photos here: http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/ind...showtopic=23014 ). It is next to Arlington National Cemetery and until last Friday I had no visited either place since about 1960.

 

If the Iwo Jima monument honors the Marines, and the thousands of gravestones at Arlington honor men and women from all services, the Army has its own amazing living monuments in the form of the Sentinels from 3rd U.S. Infantry (The Old Guard) who stand guard at what we commonly call the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (but officially knows as the Tomb of the Unknowns).

 

Watching these young soldiers march back and forth in utmost precision along their 21-step route in front of the Tomb is impressive, but watching them do it without flinching in the hot, humid weather of a Washington summer is to see military discipline and training at its best.

 

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There's a nice synopsis of the Tomb duty at http://www.arlingtoncemetery.org/ceremonie...ntinelsotu.html

 

In the summer the Sentinels are changed every half-hour: in the winter and at night it's every hour. The above link has this description of the change ceremony:

 

An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. Soon the new sentinel leaves the Quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle to signal to the relief commander to start the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony.

 

The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon, checking each part of the rifle once. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknowns who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, "Pass on your orders." The current sentinel commands, "Post and orders, remain as directed." The newly posted sentinel replies, "Orders acknowledged," and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute.

 

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