3rd u.s. infantry regiment the old guard

Since 1948, each Thursday before Memorial Day weekend troops from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the Army’s official ceremonial unit known as the “Old Guard’ have placed small American flags in front of all of Arlington’s tombstones.
Each flag is planted precisely one foot in front of a grave marker and perfectly centered. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.
This year, 1,700 soldiers will participate in the tradition known as “Flags-In.” They will plant approximately 260,000 flags on the Thursday evening before Memorial Day, and they will be removed at the holiday’s conclusion.


Mama, I’m coming home.

The Soldiers of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) perform a dignified transfer of the remains of a Soldier at Reagan National Airport, Virginia. The Old Guard will also be conducting the funeral for the Soldier being laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. 

(U.S. Army photos by Sgt. Cody W. Torkelson, 30 AUG 2016.)

Memorial  Day 2015 - Remembering The  Fallen American Men And Women From All Wars

The Tomb Of The Unknowns With Guards

(Left to right) Sgt. Benton Thames, Sgt. Jeff Binek and Spc. William Johnson change the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The ceremony is full of tradition and meaning. 

The Tomb of the Unknowns has been perpetually guarded since July 2, 1937, by the U.S. Army. The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”) began guarding the Tomb on April 6, 1948. There is a meticulous routine which the guard follows when watching over the graves.[74] The Tomb Guard:

  1. Marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb.
  2. Turns, faces east for 21 seconds.
  3. Turns and faces north for 21 seconds.
  4. Takes 21 steps down the mat.
  5. Repeats the routine until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard.

After each turn, the Guard executes a sharp “shoulder-arms” movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the Guard stands between the Tomb and any possible threat.

Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed—the 21-gun salute.

Each turn the guard makes precise movements and followed by a loud click of the heels as he snaps them together. The guard is changed every half hour during daylight in the summer, and every hour during daylight in the winter and every two hours at night (when the cemetery is closed to the public), regardless of weather conditions.


A section of Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Va., shows a fraction of the 143,000 wreaths placed at the graves of fallen service members during Wreaths Across America, Dec. 14, 2013. Thousands of volunteers helped place over 143,000 wreaths at the graves of fallen service members as part of the annual Wreaths Across America event.

(Department of Defense photo by Sebastian Sciotti Jr.)