I got this e-mail forward from my dad. Usually I delete these things, but I found this one very interesting and thought-provoking...
TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER
How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknowns and why?
21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.
How long does he hesitate after his about-face to begin his return walk and why?
21 seconds for the same reason as above.
Why are his gloves wet?
His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.
How often are the guards changed?
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
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".
Other requirements of the Guard: 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 (fighting) or the tomb in any way. 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.
The 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 Arlington National Cemetary. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred.
Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis, and Medal of Honor winnder Audie Murphy of Hollywood fame. Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniform ready for guard duty.
In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington D.C., our U.S. Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned to the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment.
They respectfully declined the offer. 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.
I've always felt that the concept of "respect" is one that gets thrown around haphazardly, usually with little true knowledge of what the word means. For that reason, it's refreshing to see a true example of respect such as this one.
On a lighter note... 6'2" with a 30" waist? Not bad.. and those of you who have seen the changing of the guard, you know that most of those guys don't appear to be skinny.