Friday, June 21, 2013

Changing of the Guards/Arlington Natn'l Cemetery/Smithsonian Museum of Air & Space

Bugling the changing

 Thought I'd post some facts that I found interesting about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
 TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER
Interesting facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Sentinels of the Third United States Infantry Regiment "Old Guard"
Q: How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?
A: 21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.
Q: How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
A: 21 seconds, for the same reason as answer number 1.
Q: Why are his gloves wet?
A: His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.
Q: Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time, and if not, why not?
A: No, 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.
Q: How often are the guards changed?
A: Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
Q: What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
A: 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".
Other requirements of the Guard:
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 {fighting} 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 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.
The Sentinels Creed:
My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted. In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter. And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection. Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability. It is he who commands the respect I protect. His bravery that made us so proud. Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.
More Interesting facts about the Tomb of the Unknowns itself:
The marble for the Tomb of the Unknowns was furnished by the Vermont Marble Company of Danby, Vt. The marble is the finest and whitest of American marble, quarried from the Yule Marble Quarry located near Marble, Colorado and is called Yule Marble. The Marble for the Lincoln memorial and other famous buildings was also quarried there.
The Tomb consists of seven pieces of rectangular marble: Four pieces in sub base; weight Â- 15 tons;
One piece in base or plinth; weight Â- 16 tons;
One piece in die; weight Â- 36 tons;
One piece in cap; weight Â- 12 tons;
Carved on the East side (the front of the Tomb, which faces Washington, D.C.) is a composite of three figures, commemorative of the spirit of the Allies of World War I.
In the center of the panel stands Victory (female).
On the right side, a male figure symbolizes Valor.
On the left side stands Peace, with her palm branch to reward the devotion and sacrifice that went with courage to make the cause of righteousness triumphant.
The north and south sides are divided into three panels by Doric pilasters. In each panel is an inverted wreath.
On the west, or rear, panel (facing the Amphitheater) is inscribed:
HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD
The first Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a sub base and a base or plinth. It was slightly smaller than the present base. This was torn away when the present Tomb was started Aug. 27, 1931. The Tomb was completed and the area opened to the public 9:15 a.m. April 9, 1932, without any ceremony.
Cost of the Tomb: $48,000
Sculptor: Thomas Hudson Jones
Architect: Lorimer Rich
Contractors: Hagerman & Harris, New York City
Inscription: Author Unknown

 Video of the action.
One more interesting article I read, said that during severe weather, the Commander of the Regiment will often tell the guards to take cover.  During one of the hurricanes that blew in, he gave the order for them to abandon post and take shelter.  The guard did not do so, even under strict orders.  His comment was something to the effect that he had buddies in Iraq who are under much harsher conditions than he, so this is a small sacrifice to pay for those who have given so much to us.
 Arlington National Cemetary
 A famous Texan!  Audie L. Murphy was a WW2 veteran who was presented with a Medal of Honor.  He was also an actor in several films.  He suffered severely with PTSD.  There is a hospital in San Antonio named after him.
 The kids quickly breezed through the Smithsonian's Museum of Air & Space in their walk to the Mall's food court.  They came back later and spent some more time.




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