Virtue of the Week: Patriotism

Tomb of the Unknown SoldierTHE TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier represents all the American service men and women who have died …..Guarding that tomb is an honor bestowed on a few committed men.

Who are these men? The physical traits are specific:

  • They must be between 5′ 10″ and 6’2″ tall
  • Their waist size cannot exceed 30 inches

As they stand duty:

Their rifle is always carried on the shoulder away from the tomb and the gloves are always moistened to prevent losing their grip on the rifle. The guards are changed every 30 minutes, twenty four hours a day, 365 days a year. Each guard takes exactly 21 steps on their walk across the front of the tomb. At the end of the pass in front of the tomb, they do an about face and pause for exactly 21 seconds before the return walk. The 21 steps and 21 seconds alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given to any military dignitary. Once they are selected to serve the Unknown Soldier:

  • They must commit two years of their life living in barracks under the tomb.
  • During the first six months of duty, a guard cannot talk to anyone, nor watch television.
  • 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.
  • Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.
  • They pledge to not drink any alcohol on or off duty, not just during that period of time, but for the remainder of their lives.
  • They cannot swear in public for the rest of their life.
  • They agree to never disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way with their behavior.

After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying that they served as a guard of the tomb. There are only 400 currently worn. If the guard ever violates any of the commitments made, he must surrender the wreath pin.

Love your country. Your country is the land where your parents sleep, where is spoken that language in which the chosen of your heart, blushing, whispered the first word of love; it is the home that God has given you that by striving to perfect yourselves therein you may prepare to ascend to him.Giuseppe Mazzini
If I knew something that would serve my country but would harm mankind, I would never reveal it; for I am a citizen of humanity first and by necessity, and a citizen of France second, and only by accident.Montesquieu