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fxramper
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Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:10 pm




I've had the pleasure of visiting the Arlington National Cemetery four times in my life. Each visit we spent enough time to attend the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown(s). I knew it was considered one of the highest honors to serve as guard of the tomb, but recently got a comail regarding the level of commitment the servicemen go through during their two year tour at the Tomb.

  • How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why? 21 steps: It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

  • How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why? 21 seconds for the above same reason.

  • Why are his gloves wet? His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.

  • 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.

  • How often are the guards changed? Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

  • 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 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 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.

  • The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.
 
AverageUser
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:35 pm



"Get the third one from the right -- he's got a spot of lint on him"
 
zanl188
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:37 pm

Quoting fxramper (Thread starter):
but recently got a comail regarding the level of commitment the servicemen go through during their two year tour at the Tomb.

Do you honestly believe they give up alcohol for the rest of their lives? That they cannot talk to anyone or watch TV the first 6 months of duty?

Please don't believe everything you read in a e-mail...
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DeltaMD11
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sat Mar 27, 2010 6:15 pm

Ahh some of that stuff really is untrue, I've known a few soldiers who have come off a tour of duty with the Old Guard and they pretty much are reintegrated back into the system. Infantrymen will be infantrymen. Below are some pics from a trip to Arlington in '07. I make it a point to visit Arlington several times a year when I'm back home in the states, sobering reminder of what America stands for and the countless lives that have fought for freedom.
Too often we ... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
 
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Moose135
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sat Mar 27, 2010 7:45 pm

As noted, some of the info in that e-mail is correct, or at least close, but there is much misinformation as well. Learn the which is which here:

http://www.snopes.com/military/unknown.asp
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zanl188
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sat Mar 27, 2010 8:31 pm

Quoting moose135 (Reply 4):
As noted, some of the info in that e-mail is correct, or at least close, but there is much misinformation as well. Learn the which is which here:

Or take it from the tomb guards themselves here:

http://www.tombguard.org/FAQ.html
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Rara
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sat Mar 27, 2010 9:12 pm

Very interesting and impressive.


The lengths to which nationalism has gone to create such rituals and traditions, to fill people with a sense of awe and respect for a higher cause, eh? However far removed and dubitable it may be. To a person from 300 years ago (or 300 years in the future?), these rituals must seem so bizarre, they'd seem almost inexplicable to them. Protecting the remains of a bunch of unknown people from - what exactly? Yet it's not meaningless at all. It sends a message to all soldiers: you may be sent to some faraway place, you may die for a cause you may not even understand, let alone support; but at home, your comrades will walk on and about in front of a white stone, and that stone somehow makes your sacrifice meaningful (and it makes your family feel better).

Again, really fascinating.
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OA412
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sat Mar 27, 2010 10:59 pm

There was actually a really good documentary on TV (I think PBS) a few years ago about Arlington National Cemetery that discussed all of the different aspects of the cemetery and the people serving there. One of the things it focused on was the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown and how rigid the standards for them are. They also discussed the Arlington Ladies and other aspects of the cemetery. It was all quite fascinating. I'll post if I can find the name of it.
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CPH-R
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:01 am

Quoting Rara (Reply 6):
To a person from 300 years ago (or 300 years in the future?), these rituals must seem so bizarre, they'd seem almost inexplicable to them. Protecting the remains of a bunch of unknown people from - what exactly?

Even ~100 years ago, the idea that a common soldier could be afforded such an honor was quite unthinkable and had only really been done once (the 'Landsoldaten' statue that was raised after the Danish-Prussian War of 1864).

For what it's worth, even the selection of the Unknown Warrior of Great Britain was rigged to such a degree, that it almost certainly was a member of the pre-war professional army, instead of some 'common' citizen who had joined up to fight for King and Country.

I had the pleasure of visiting Berlin last summer, and I have to say that Neue Wache is probably one of the better memorials to an unknown soldier, given that it also includes the innocent victim of war.
 
oldeuropean
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:00 pm

Speaking about military rituals and their absurdity, I'm more impressed by this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ0ue-XGl9c

Axel
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DeltaMD11
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 12:34 pm

Quoting oldeuropean (Reply 9):
Speaking about military rituals and their absurdity, I'm more impressed by this:

Not bad, however I don't think that sort of goosestepping looks particularly formidable or impressive. Have a look at these guys, along with the Marine Corps Drill Team some of the best you'll find. These soldiers come from the same regiment that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dxTBK7jI1s
Too often we ... enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. - John Fitzgerald Kennedy
 
MD11Engineer
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:15 pm

Quoting oldeuropean (Reply 9):
Speaking about military rituals and their absurdity, I'm more impressed by this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LZ0ue-XGl9c

This is basically exagerated British WW2 Guards drill. Even the uniforms (especially the Indian ones) remind me very much of WW2 British battle dress.
The Pugharree (spelling?), the cloth wound around the turban, is worn on both sides and the style used by Muslim units in the old British Indian Army.
The soldiers probably wear oldstyle Ammunition boots with hobnailed soles, a bitch to walk on tarmac, since they are slippery like hell, but they make a nice loud sound when stomping the feet.

Jan
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RussianJet
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:54 pm

Quoting DeltaMD11 (Reply 10):
Not bad, however I don't think that sort of goosestepping looks particularly formidable or impressive. Have a look at these guys, along with the Marine Corps Drill Team some of the best you'll find. These soldiers come from the same regiment that guards the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

I don't agree. Fine, those US drill guys had incredible skill and control, but the India-Pakistan display was way more interesting and impressive than throwing and twirling guns ad infinitum.
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trident3
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 6:58 pm

I give you the Queen's Colour Squadron of the Royal Airforce performing continuity drill with loaded assault rifles
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1e7YktjHMLo

[Edited 2010-03-28 11:59:25]
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EMBQA
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 7:37 pm

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 2):
Please don't believe everything you read in a e-mail...

From a friend that is a 20+ year retired Marine and had a friend that was in the Old Guard.. you will NOT DO ANYTHING to disgrace the Old Guard at anytime...service time or post career. Can you drink.. yes.. but it is a very high honor to be selected and only the very best of the best of the very best are chosen.

[Edited 2010-03-28 12:41:53]
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zanl188
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:42 pm

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 15):
From a friend that is a 20+ year retired Marine and had a friend that was in the Old Guard.. you will NOT DO ANYTHING to disgrace the Old Guard at anytime...service time or post career. Can you drink.. yes.. but it is a very high honor to be selected and only the very best of the best of the very best are chosen.

Since the Tomb Guards themselves debunked this rumor re: Alcohol, TV, and not talking to anyone for 6 months, I'm not sure what your point is.

Besides what are they going to do? Take away the heel taps? A pin?

These folks are pros and pretty good at what they do. They don't need any e-mail or internet wanna bes to over embellish and try to make them something they are not.
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DeltaMD90
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:56 pm

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 2):
Quoting fxramper (Thread starter):
but recently got a comail regarding the level of commitment the servicemen go through during their two year tour at the Tomb.

Do you honestly believe they give up alcohol for the rest of their lives? That they cannot talk to anyone or watch TV the first 6 months of duty?

It's very, very strict, believe it or not. Their first 6 months are probably the hardest of their lives. I've done their kind of work in a very watered down form, and I can tell you, the little that I do is extremely tedious. These guys are no joke.
 
AverageUser
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:57 pm

 
scrubbsywg
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Mon Mar 29, 2010 1:39 am

Quoting OA412 (Reply 7):
There was actually a really good documentary on TV (I think PBS) a few years ago about Arlington National Cemetery that discussed all of the different aspects of the cemetery and the people serving there. One of the things it focused on was the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown and how rigid the standards for them are. They also discussed the Arlington Ladies and other aspects of the cemetery. It was all quite fascinating. I'll post if I can find the name of it.

it was a national geographic special.

there was a really amazing montage of the guard at the tomb of the unknown. it was really really well done cinematics.
 
EMBQA
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:35 am

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 16):
I'm not sure what your point is.

I never said all that was true.... My point is that to become part of the Old Guard is a very high honor that only 400 have ever been a part of and it is not taken lightly by those selected. They take it very serious. I don't think its any different then my long time friend that was a Thunderbird... even though he his no long part of that group. You still carry that with you in the way you act and carry yourself away from the unit

[Edited 2010-03-28 19:39:24]
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
 
aaflt1871
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RE: Guards At Tomb Of Unknowns; Amazing (pic).

Mon Mar 29, 2010 4:15 am

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 20):
I never said all that was true.... My point is that to become part of the Old Guard is a very high honor that only 400 have ever been a part of and it is not taken lightly by those selected.

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