Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Facts Fiction
On this memorial day its a time of reflection and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier comes to my thoughts coupled with the lyrics of Lee Green Wood:
“I’m proud to be an American
Where at least I know I’m free
And I won’t forget the men who died
Who gave that right to me…”
There is so much truth to these lyrics. Many good men and woman have died so we have the freedom we enjoy each and every day. That many of us take for granted. On November 19th, 1863 Abraham Lincoln used the words “last full measure of devotion” for the soldiers who have given their life. Here is a small slice of the Gettysburg Address with some of the most powerful words ever written in a speech:
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
There is great information on Abraham Lincoln at http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/
Picture was obtained at http://www.snopes.com/military/hurricane.asp Not sure who took this picture but they captured a powerful moment.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Facts Fiction
Were the sentries guarding the tomb of the Unknown Soldier during Hurricane Isabel (September, 2003) the most powerful Atlantic Storm in over 5 Years?
According to Snopes http://www.snopes.com/military/hurricane.asp the Answer is yes. I would like to share with you a few excerpts from this article. A real tribute to the many Soldier who stand watch at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“The Tomb of the Unknowns remains one of the United States’ most revered sites, a permanent reminder of this country’s commitment to honor those who died fighting for its freedom. Last week, that commitment was upheld in a way some people might not have even noticed or even thought about.
When practically every government employee in Washington was beating a hasty retreat to avoid the aftereffects of Hurricane Isabel, a small group of men decided their commitment to duty, honor and country was more important than personal safety or comfort.
Tomb Guard Sentinels, the elite soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry regiment chosen to act as guards at the Tomb, opted to sustain their constant vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns rather than flee the oncoming bad weather. To them it was a matter of honoring their personal and professional obligations to the men and women who served before them and who serve now – and obviously do not have the luxury of serving their country only when skies are blue and the sun shines down upon them.
Although the Tomb of the Unknowns is watched over by Tomb Guards 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of weather conditions, to have soldiers so duty-bound as to ignore their own personal well-being is an example of real patriotism and a real reminder of the sacrifices made to secure the principles of liberty” http://www.snopes.com/military/hurricane.asp
What is clear to me, to be a Soldier guarding the tomb of the Unknown Soldier it requires an incredible amount of commitment. God Bless them.
Is it true a Sentinel must commit for two years 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.
Friends of mine in the Military have told us they have heard they take an oath not to swear or drink alcohol for life. According to The Society of Honor Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier “No, this is a false rumor. The average tour at the Tomb is about a 18 months. However, there is NO set time for service there. Sentinels live either in a barracks on Ft. Myer (the Army post located adjacent to the cemetery) or off base if they like. They do have a living quarters under the steps of the amphitheater where they stay during their 24 hour shifts. If they are of legal age, they may drink except while on duty”.
Is it true they cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives?
According to The Society of Honor Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier This is another false rumor.
Is it true not all soldiers in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier remained Unknown?
To Quote 10 Facts About the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier by Stacy Conradt Thanks to advances in mitochondrial DNA testing, scientists were eventually able to identify the remains of the Vietnam War soldier. On May 14, 1998, the remains were exhumed and tested, revealing the “unknown” soldier to be Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie (pictured). Blassie was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. After his identification, Blassie’s family had him moved to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Instead of adding another unknown soldier to the Vietnam War crypt, the crypt cover has been replaced with one bearing the inscription, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”
Has anyone ever tried to get past the Tomb guards, or attempted to deface the Tomb?
According to The Society of Honor Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Yes, that is the reason why we now guard the Tomb. Back in the early 1920’s, we didn’t have guards and the Tomb looked much different. It was flat at ground level without the 70 ton marble ‘cap’. People often came to the cemetery in those days and a few actually used the Tomb as a picnic area, likely because of the view. Soon after in 1925, they posted a civilian guard. In 1926, a US Army soldier was posted during cemetery hours. On July 1, 1937 guard duty was expanded to the 24 hour watch. Since then, the ceremony has evolved throughout the years to you see today. Today, most of the challenges faced by the Sentinels are tourists who are speaking too loudly or attempting to get a better picture (by entering the post).
Do you guard all night long, even when the cemetery is closed?
According to The Society of Honor Guard Tomb of the Unknown Soldier The Tomb is guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In fact, there has been a Sentinel on duty in front of the Tomb every minute of every day since 1937.
Here is a video someone took, that gives you a sense of what it would be like to visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier…
On this memorial day we have a lot to think of. Many good men and woman have died to protect our freedoms. Thank you to everyone who serves or has served in the Military. Thank you to your families who have also had to sacrifice as you have served.
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