Archive for the ‘The Old Guard and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier’ Category










A photo of soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from September that went viral on the Internet

as Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. (Karin Markert/OldGuard/Facebook)


An inspirational picture making the rounds on the Internet is reminding people of the service of the elite soldiers who guard Arlington Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns in any kind of weather, even during Hurricane Sandy.   That the picture was actually taken in September is another matter, because even as Hurricane Sandy made its way along the Eastern seaboard, The Old Guard soldiers were there, guarding the tomb in the fierce wind and rain.

Quickly becoming an Internet sensation on social media sites, the photo garnered universal positive comments of pride for the duty and commitment to service of those serving in the U.S. military.

This  photo was sent from a friend.  I will enclose our email exchange which is in red:

I wrote:

Thank you Reverend for this very touching image.  What a message! I think of being faithful at our post of duty rain or shine, good times or bad, in danger or in times of peace.  G.B.

His reply:

Yes ma’am. MAY ALL who come behind FIND us FAITHFUL…  May the FIRE of our DEVOTION light their way..

 We read of faithful brethren, true soldiers of Christ in the Bible:

“By Silvanus, A FAITHFUL BROTHER unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.”  (1 Peter 5:12)

Even of Christ himself:

“Who was FAITHFUL to him that appointed him, as ALSO Moses was faithful in all his house.” (Hebrews 3:2)

LORD let me be FOUND faithful!


Guards serving at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are handpicked and rigorously trained.  Many do not pass the training.  Tomb Guards describe their service as a privilege and an honor, and are undeniably proud of their service.  They are part of an unbroken chain of soldiers dating back to 1926.  The ideals of the Tomb become the Guidepost for their lives, as well as a motivating factor and measuring stick for future endeavors.

The training for the soldiers is intense.  If a trainee fails any test, they are assigned back to their company.

The Sentinel’s Creed is the Tomb Guard standard.  The 99 words of the creed capture the true meaning of their duty.  You will often hear the words “Line 6” proudly uttered by Tomb Guards as they converse with each other or with their chain of command.


The Sentinel’s Creed

My dedication to this sacred duty
is total and whole-hearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me
never will I falter.
And with dignity and perseverance
my standard will remain perfection.
Through the years of diligence and praise
and the discomfort of the elements,
I will walk my tour in humble reverence
to the best of my ability.
It is he who commands the respect I protect,
his bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day,
alone in the thoughtful peace of night,
this soldier will in honored glory rest
under my eternal vigilance.

~ Simon 1971~
Creed all Tomb Guard’s learn in training.
Inscribed on a plaque by the entrance to the quarters;
Arlington National Cemetery,
Washington, D.C.


Tomb Sentinels from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment’s “The Old Guard” is the oldest active infantry unit in the military, since 1784.  It has a long history of service from the Revolutionary War to the Iraq War.

Since World War II, the Old Guard has served as the official “U.S. Honor Guard” unit and “Escort to the President:, as well as maintaining its certification as an infantry unit for combat roles.  In that capacity, Old Guard soldiers are responsible for conducting military ceremonies at the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, national memorials and elsewhere in the nation’s capital.  In addition, these soldiers defend civil authorities in Washington D.C. and support overseas contingency missions.  The Old Guard recruits soldiers based on certain intangible traits, and with requirements for height and weight, physical fitness, aptitude scores, and conduct.  These soldiers are considered the best of this elite unit.

They remain at their posts of duty 365 days a year, 24-7 in rain, snow or shine and extreme weather is not a concern.  They remained at their posts during Hurricanes Isabel and Irene as well as the 2010  blizzard, nicknamed Snowmageddon, that shut down the capital for days.

Typically when it rains, Tomb Sentinels have the option of standing their watch under a green tent located to the side of the Tomb where they usually remain during wreath-laying ceremonies at the tomb.

According to the Society of The Old Guard’s website, Tomb Sentinels “are completely dedicated to their duty of guarding the Tomb. Because of that dedication, the weather does not bother them. In fact, they consider it an honor to stand their watch (we call it “walking the mat”), regardless of the weather. It gets cold, it gets hot – but the Sentinels never budge. And they never allow any feeling of cold or heat to be seen by anyone.”

The website for the society says that despite their commitment, the welfare of the soldier is never put at risk: “The Tomb Guards have contingencies that are ready to be executed IF the weather conditions EVER place the Soldiers at risk of injury or death — such as lightning, high winds, etc. This ensures that Sentinels can maintain the Tomb Guard responsibilities while ensuring soldier safety. It is the responsibility of the Chain of Command from the Sergeant of the Guard to the Regimental Commander to ensure mission accomplishment and soldier welfare at all times.”

However, on the ABC evening news, it was reported that, because of the dangers from Hurricane Isabel approaching Washington, DC, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They refused. “No way, Sir!”

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 service person.


“You are the gleaming pride of the American soldier.

Guard the unknown soldier because he is

America the beautiful

God bless the sentinel and we salute you all.”

~On the wall on the Tomb Guard quarters~


The following poem by Ken Carrolan is on the wall in the Tomb Guard quarters:

“You are guarding the world’s most precious gifts,

you, you alone are the symbol of 200 million people who wish to show their gratitude

and you will march through the rain, the snow, and the heat to prove it.”

The Unknown Soldiers laid to rest at the Tomb represent a potent symbol of the serviceman who has died in combat but whose remains are not identifiable.  He cannot be returned to his home, his friends and loved ones cannot know for certain how or when he died, he cannot be placed to rest in a site of his own choosing.  That loss of identity makes the unknown soldier a powerful symbol who stands for the purest ideals of courage, valor, and sacrifice and serves as a noble and selfless representation of service to one’s country.    The inscription on the Tomb says:






Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II succinctly sums up the sacrificial lives of those who gave till there was no more to give.  We humbly pay tribute to the great men and women of our military past and present.


Alone and far removed from earthly care,

The noble ruins of men lie buried here,

You were strong men, good men,

Endowed with youth and much the will to live,

I hear no protest from the mute lips of the dead,

They rest, there is no more to give.




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