Saturday, April 15, 2017

The honor of guarding a tomb

On this Easter day, we remember the guards who honor and protect a tomb which will never be found empty, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. The Tomb Guard Identification Badge is the second least awarded badge in the military, behind only the Astronaut Badge. To earn it, applicants must learn verbatim 35 pages of tomb history, including punctuation. If one comma is forgotten, the applicant fails. Guards are trained in seven different ceremonies held at the tomb, and must keep their uniforms in pristine condition. The badge of a Tomb Guard can be revoked later in life. "Even if you are 60 and you get caught drunk driving, your badge can be revoked," says Sgt. Sergeant Shane Vincent, a former guard.

The inscription on the tomb reads, "Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God." Soldiers have continuously guarded the tomb since 1926. There are no breaks for extreme weather or national emergency. Tomb guards remained on duty during Hurricane Sandy, and continued marching during the terrorists attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. To see a 10-minute video of the changing of the guard, visit  Happy Easter!

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