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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Will You Remember ? The Changing of the Guard

November 11th is approaching and for many it is "Remembrance Day" but each year it seems that there are fewer people who identify with the ceremony and the diminishing group of "old soldiers" who stand (or sit) with solemn faces as the wreaths are laid.

* Re-Posted~Please! Remember to Remember, Honour and Respect !
An email circulating about a Jeopardy program prompted me to post this. For those who don't know, there is a program on American TV called Jeopardy, where contestants win money by answering skill questions. One night, the final question was:  "How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns". All three contestants missed it! After some searching is seemed that a short post about this amazing place was in line.

1] How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?
The Steps alludes to the twenty-one 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?
He hesitates for twenty-one seconds for the same reason as answer number one.

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.

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 two 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 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 Lewis {the boxer}, Medal of Honor winner Audie L. Murphy--the most decorated soldier of WWII (and yes, the famous Hollywood actor) 
* Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty. 

In  2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was  approaching Washington, DC, the US Senate/House took two 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 of the Unknown Soldier has been patrolled continuously,  24/7, since 1930! We from democratic countries should all be very proud of all of our young men and women who serve to preserve our rights and freedoms no matter where they are. If you can't make it to Arlington, then watch the clip below. It is truly amazing! 

Eternal Rest Grant Them O Lord and Let Perpetual Light Shine Upon Them...Amen