“Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God”
Grave Sites – Unknown Soldier
The Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier
July 2, 1937 – Present
Arlington National Cemetery
Ps – Grave Sites – Unknown Soldier – Ritual
Known as “Walking The Mat,” there is a meticulous ritual the guard follows when watching over the graves:
The soldier walks 21 steps across the Tomb. This alludes to the 21-gun salute, which is the highest honor given to any military or foreign dignitary in America. His weapon is always on the shoulder opposite the Tomb (i.e., on the side of the gallery watching the ritual).
On the 21st step, the soldier turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds.
The soldier then turns to face the other way across the Tomb and changes his weapon to the outside shoulder.
After 21 seconds, the first step is repeated.
This is repeated until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard.
Ps – Grave Sites – Unknown Soldier – Dedication
The Tomb Guards, a special platoon within the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) work on a team rotation of 24 hours on, 24 hours off, for five days, taking the following four days off.
A guard takes an average of six hours to prepare his uniform – heavy wool, regardless of the time of year – for the next day’s work.
In addition to preparing the uniform, guards also complete physical training, Tomb Guard training, cut their hair before the next work day, and shave twice per day.
Tomb Guards are required to memorize 16 pages of information about Arlington National Cemetery and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, including the locations of nearly 300 graves and who is buried in each one.
The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, since July 2, 1937.
Inclement weather does not cause the watch to cease.