I was researching the Murtha-Badmouths-America's-Troops syndrome, and was sent a link to Arlington National Cemetry, once the garden of Robert E. Lee, and now our nation's place of honor for the mortal remains of outstanding souls who journeyed through life, distinguishing themselves with honor and integrity.
I asked, "How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and why?"
The answer I found is: "21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military person or foreign dignitary."
I know now that the rifles the guards carry are always carried on the shoulder away from the tomb. After marching past the tomb, an about-face includes moving the rifle to the outside shoulder.
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, and must physically be between 5' 10" and 6' 2" tall and waist size cannot exceed 30 inches. 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, guards are given a wreath pin that is worn on the lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guards must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.
Their 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
In 2003, as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching
They respectfully declined the offer saying, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin and 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 has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.And after reading of WHY President Taft, and racist-Nazi-symbol-MaxSchmelling-demolisher Joe Lewis, and reviewing Audie Murphy's BRILLIANT 90 minutes of gallantry, in which he personally killed at least 50 and continually telephoned-in arty directives which killed hundreds more and stopped a 6-tank effort of the 'racially-superior, National-Socialist, destined-to-be-world-rulers' facing Murphy at Holtzwihr, France, I was in awe of these soldiers of the Old Guard, who LIVE HONOR not just during their tour of duty at Arlington, but for the rest of their lives!
Maybe Mr Murtha could learn a lesson or two here...
Update: here's the MP3: Honor!