Today is Memorial Day, 2019. On this day, we remember those that paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms as a country.
One of the most visited and photographed spots on this day is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Last week, a member of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment was seen placing a flag on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as heavy rain poured on, gaining admiration for the tribute. Storms bringing torrential rain and strong wind gusts prompted visitors to run for cover, but America’s Regiment endured.
There are so many facts and focal points that need to be mentioned to bring even more meaning to this sacred memorial.
Facts about the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
- It stands on the top of a hill overlooking Washington DC. Congress approved the burial of an unidentified World War I soldier in the plaza of the then-new Memorial Amphitheater in 1921.
- There are three other soldiers buried at the tomb. In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill to select and pay tribute to the unknowns of World War II and Korea.
- The Old Guard conducts memorial affairs to honor fallen comrades and special events to represent the U.S. Army. Every year, the Old Guard places flags at each cemetery at Arlington National Cemetery before Memorial Day.
- According to the Old Guard’s website, a sentinel on duty crosses a 63-foot rubber surfaced walkway in exactly 21 steps, and then faces the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier for 21 seconds, pausing an additional 21 seconds, before retracing his steps. The 21 is symbolic of the highest salute accorded to dignitaries in military and state ceremonies.
- The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and in any weather by Tomb Guard sentinels. Tomb Guards are volunteers — part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Old Guard.” It is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving the US since 1784. The honor of the Tomb Guard is incredibly rare. The badge is the least awarded in the Army. It takes a high level of dedication to be a Tomb Guard. They work in 24-hour shift and when they aren’t walking the mat, they are living in the quarters beneath it. During that time, they complete training and prepare their uniforms, which can take up to eight hours.
- The white marble sarcophagus has three Greek figures sculpted on the side representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. There are also six wreaths, three sculpted on each side, that represent the six major campaigns of World War I.
- On the back on the tomb, there is an inscription that reads: Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.
Have a safe and happy Memorial Day and never forget it’s true meaning.
Ref. CBS News, cbsnews.com, cnn.com
Photo courtesy of Bing via mentalfloss.com