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ECV® CHAPTER 1841








HISTRORIANS REPORT

CHAPTER #1841

AUGUST 19, 2013


Tomb of the Unknowns
click on pictures to enlarge
The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery is also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It stands on top of a hill in Arlington, Virginia, overlooking Washington D.C. The Tomb is made of Yule marble quarried in Colorado. It consists of seven pieces, with a total weight of 72 metric tons. The tomb was completed and open to the public April 9, 1932 at a cost of $48,000.

photograph by FredW
... photograph by FredW
 

The Soldiers entombed there are:

Unknown Soldier of World War I, interred November 11, 1921. President Warren G Harding presided.

Unknown Soldier of World War II, interred May 30, 1958. President Dwight D Eisenhower presided.

Unknown Soldier of the Korean War, interred May 30, 1958. President Dwight D Eisenhower presided. Vice President Richard Nixon acted as next of kin.

Unknown Soldier of the Vietnam War, interred May 28, 1984. President Ronald Reagan presided. The remains of the Vietnam Unknown were disinterred under the authority of President William Clinton, on May 14, 1998, and were identified as those of Air Force 1st Lt Michael J Blassie, whose family had then reinterred near their home in St Louis, Missouri. It has been determined that the crypt at the Tomb of the Unknowns that contained the remains of the Vietnam Unknown will remain empty.

photograph by FredW
... photograph by FredW
 

The Tomb of the Unknowns has been perpetually guarded since July 2, 1937 by the U.S. Army. There is a meticulous routine which the guard follows when watching over the graves.

The Tomb Guard:

1). Marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb.
2).Turns, faces East for 21 seconds.
3). Turns and faces North for 21 seconds.
4). Takes 21 steps down the mat.
5). Repeats the routine until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guard.

After each turn, the Guard executes a sharp "shoulder-arms" movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the Guard stands between the Tomb and any possible threat. Each turn the guard makes is precise and is instantly followed by a loud click of the heels as he snaps then together. Twenty one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed-the 21-gun salute.

US Army
... "US Army
 

The guard is changed every half hour during daylight in the summer, and every hour during daylight in the winter and every two hours at night, regardless of weather conditions.

US Army
... "US Army
 

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. The first 6 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. After 2 years the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as a guard for the Tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey the aforementioned rules for the rest of their lives or give up the pin.

US Army
... "US Army
 

Every guard spends 5 hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full length mirror. 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.

US Army
... "US Army
 
In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington DC, our US Congress took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. It was reported that because of the dangers from the storm, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined and said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment but that it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person.

God Bless and Keep Them

Reported by,

Brother Fred "Mr Magoo" Willcox

Webmaster's note: The webmaster, being a Southern Boy, felt it was worth mentioning that Mary Lee, wife of General Robert E. Lee, inherited Arlington, a 1,100-acre estate, from her father, George Washington Parke Custis. Confederate troops fired on the federal garrison at Fort Sumter, South Carolina on April 12, 1861. On May 23, 1861, the voters of Virginia approved an ordinance of secession by a ratio of more than six to one; within hours of Virginia becoming committed to the Confederacy and joining the "revolt" columns of Union forces streamed through Washington and made for the Potomac. At precisely 2 a.m. on May 24, some 14,000 troops began crossing the river into Virginia and when the sun rose that morning the now abandonded and undefended estate changed hands. Arlington's heights offered a perfect platform for artillery, key to the defense or subjugation of the capital. Arlington became the prize in a legal and bureaucratic battle that continued long after the guns fell silent at Appomattox in 1865. The federal government was still wrestling the Lee family for control of the property in 1882, by which time it had been transformed into Arlington National Cemetery, the nation's most hallowed ground. As a Southern Boy, I see no poetic justice in the fact that Arlington's rich lands, so long the domain of the great general of the rebellion ended up being a memorial... forever... maybe if soldiers from the Union and from the Confederacy had been enterred there I would see the justice, but, the times being what they were back then let it be written and let it be done.