Sentinels of the Tomb

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Patriots
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Sentinels of the Tomb

Post by Patriots » January 30th, 2019, 11:57 pm


Originally a civilian watchman was responsible for the security of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Then, March 24, 1926, a military guard from the Washington Provisional Brigade (forerunner of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington) was established during the day-light hours. In 1948 the 3d U.S. Infantry "The Old Guard" assumed the post following the units reactivation in the nation’s capital. Members of the 3d Infantry’s Honor Guard continue to serve in this distinguished duty today.

A soldier seeking the honor of serving as a sentinel at the Tomb must possess exemplary qualities, to include American citizenship, a spotless record, and impeccable military bearing.

While on duty the sentinel crosses a 63-foot rubber surfaced walkway in exactly 21 steps. He then faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, turns again, and pauses an additional 21 seconds before retracing his steps. The 21 is symbolic of the highest salute accorded to dignitaries in military and state ceremonies.

As a gesture against intrusion on their post, the sentinel always bears his weapon away from the Tomb.

Only under exceptional circumstances may the guard speak or alter his silent, measured tour of duty. He will issue a warning if anyone attempts to enter the restricted area around the Tomb, but first will halt and bring his rifle to port arms.

The Guard wears the Army Dress Blue Uniform, reminiscent of the color and style worn by soldiers during the late 1800’s. Tomb Guards are privileged to wear the Tomb Identification Badge on the right breast pocket. The design is an inverted open laurel wreath surrounding a representation of the front elevation of the Tomb. The words "Honor Guard" are engraved at the base of the badge. A guard leaving after at least nine months of service is entitled to wear the badge as a permanent part of the uniform.

U.S. Army video
by Sgt. Gary Smith
3d U.S. Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard"
November 2018

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