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. The Tomb Guard:
Marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb.
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.