Memorial Day Greeting
 from the
Republican Women of
Hall County, GA


On Memorial Day weekend let us remember all our fallen heroes.



If you have never witnessed in person the guarding of the Tomb of the Unknowns by the Sentinels, the changing of the guard, etc., you owe it to yourself to make a trip to Arlington  Cemetery in D.C. to observe this. It will forever be engrained in your memory.

"Here Rests

In Honored Glory
An American Soldier
Known But To God"

The Tomb of the Unknowns, near the center of the cemetery, is one of Arlington's most popular tourist sites.

The Tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from World Wars I and II, the Korean Conflict and (until 1998) the Vietnam War. Each was presented with the Medal of Honor at the time of interment and the medals, as well as the flags which covered their caskets, are on display inside the Memorial Amphitheater, directly to the rear of the Tomb.

The Tomb is guarded 24-hours-per-day and 365-days-per year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry (The Old Guard).

The Memorial Amphitheater has been the scene of the funerals of some prominent Americans (such as General John J. "Black Jack" Pershing) as well as the site of both Memorial Day and Veterans Days celebrations




The guards  make 21-step walks past the Tomb of the Unknowns because 21 is considered a number of special significance, a topic discussed on our page about the origins of the 21-gun salute.

The guard performs his movements according to the following patten:

  • The sentinel marches 21 steps across the black mat, past the final resting places of the Unknown Soldiers of World War I, World War II, Korea, and the crypt of the Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War.
  • With a crisp turn, the sentinel turns 90 degrees (not about-face) to face east for 21 seconds.
  • The sentinel then turns a sharp 90 degrees again to face north for 21 seconds. A crisp "shoulder-arms" movement places the rifle on the shoulder nearest the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the tomb and any threat.
  • After the moment, the sentinel paces 21 steps north, turns and repeats the process.


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




The guard shifts his rifle prior to each 21-step walk to ensure that it is always carried on his outside shoulder, the one away from the Tomb ("to signify that the sentinel stands between the tomb and any threat").

From 1926 through 1937, the Tomb was guarded only during daylight hours. Ever since 1937, the Tomb has been continuously guarded 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Tomb guards are changed every thirty minutes between 8 AM and 7 PM during the period from early Spring to early Autumn (April 1 through September 30), and every hour between 8 AM to 5 PM the rest of the year. At all other times (i.e., while the cemetery is closed), the guard is changed every two hours.


Go here to read more about the Sentinels:


What are the physical traits of the guard?
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."

Like most servicemen, Tomb guards may live either on-base (at nearby Fort Myer
) or off-base in housing of their choosing.

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.    

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.




In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching  Washington,  DC, our US Senate/House took 2 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 serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously,  24/7, since 1930.  

Although serving as President of the United States qualifies one to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery, only two former Presidents are interred there William Howard Taft and John F. Kennedy

Read more at the following site:

  The Sentinels of the Tombs of the Unknown   The Sentinels of the Tombs of the Unknown
  (Arlington National Cemetery)

 National Cartoonist Remember Memorial Day

God Bless and keep them. 

I don't usually suggest that many emails or web pages be forwarded, but I'd be very proud if this one reached as many as possible. You might also share on Facebook.


Bettye Chambers
RW of Hall Webmaster



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