Arlington National Cemetery – Changing of the Guard

Military funerals at Arlington National Cemete...

Image via Wikipedia

Good Day.

I received the following text in an eMail, sent to me by a friend.  The original author is unknown to me.  Of course, the eMail urged me to forward it on to all of my 10,000+ friends.  I am firmly in the camp that advocates that we all “Save a Tree”.  I am also a believer that we should not burden the Internet with many, many, unnecessary eMails.  Accordingly, I am posting it to my blog in the hopes that you all will take this post viral, and Tweet, re-Tweet, and spread the words in any manner possible.  This is a set of facts that EVERY American needs to know!


Jeopardy Question

On Jeopardy the other night, the final question was “How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns” —- All three missed it—

This is really an awesome sight to watch if you’ve never had the chance.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

 1.           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.

2.           How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?

 21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1

3.           Why are his gloves wet?

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

4.           Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and, if not, why not?

 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.

5.           How often are the guards changed?

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

6.           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.

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 . A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are:

  • President Taft,
  • Joe Lewis {the boxer}
  • Medal of Honor winner Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII and of Hollywood fame.
  • Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.


In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm.. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that ecause of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, “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 serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.

God Bless and keep them.

I don’t usually suggest that many emails be forwarded, but I’d be very proud if this one reached as many as possible. We can be very proud of our young men and women in the service no matter where they serve.



6 responses to “Arlington National Cemetery – Changing of the Guard

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Arlington National Cemetery – Changing of the Guard | FlaAuthor's Blog --

  2. Pingback: One Third of the Way Through PostaWeek2011 | FlaAuthor's Blog

  3. Please tell me that youre going to keep this up! Its so great and so important. I cant wait to read far more from you. I just feel like you know so substantially and know how to make people listen to what youve got to say. This weblog is just also cool to be missed. Excellent stuff, really. Please, PLEASE keep it up!

  4. While it is important to honor those who died in service to our country, as well as those who are chosen to guard their graves, you should know that many of the “facts” you cited in this post are false. They originally appeared in 2004 and the urban legends about alcohol and cursing caught on wildly. The guards at Arlington deserve to have the truth known about them, they don’t need to be puffed up by falsehoods. If you would like to know the truth about the guards, you should look at the official Arlington website.

    • Thank you. If you keep reading, I’ll keep on writing! I will also check into your assertions of truth. I appreciate your comment for I used previously unimpeachable sources.

      Please also note that I have not updated this blog since June, 2011. The blog has moved to Please follow us there, and subscribe to that blog to stay on top of my posts and be sure to add a comment if there is a subject on which you would like further information.
      Don’t forget to buy the book too!

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