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Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Interesting Facts

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The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at National Arlington Cemetery stands on top of a hill overlooking Washington, D.C.  Here are some unique facts about the tomb and the men that guard the tomb.

Q:  How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?

A:  21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

Q:  How long does the guard hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?

A:  21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1

Q:  Why are his gloves wet?

A:  His gloves are moistened to prevent losing his grip on the rifle.

Q:  Does the guard carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and, if not, why not?

A:  He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

Q:  How often are the guards changed?

A:  Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

Q:  What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?

A:  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.

Changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery.

Changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery.

Additional Guard Requirements:

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 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 Cemetery.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty..

The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

We are very proud of our soldiers in uniform, God Bless America.

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