Chronicles of the Knights Simplar
Looking for Logic on the Liberal Left...this may take awhile

Honoring Our Heroes the Right Way

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I recently wrote about the proposed Flight 93 memorial design, and I had a reader leave a comment that ended with this statement:
"They [Conservatives] just don't like remembering dead heros [sic] as ordinary men and women who rose to the challenge.
They prefer honoring politicians who did nothing to protect us on 9/11."
I'll give credit when due, and I'll admit that that is a catchy little soundbite- false, "fictitious", unprovable, baseless and pointless...but catchy.
I responded, but I wasn't entirely satisfied with my response; as luck would have it, my father forwarded to me an email about the Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This was once a widely circulated email that I had read some years ago, so I checked the facts at snopes and cleaned up some of the mistakes. I find it just as powerful. Ask yourself one question while you read this- Do these men know how to "honor dead heroes as ordinary men and women who rose to the challenge?"

The Guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

1) They take 21 steps during their walk across the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to allude to the 21 gun salute, which is the highest honor given to any military or foreign dignitary.

2) He hesitates for 21 seconds after each 90 degree turn for the same reason (1st facing east for 21 seconds, then turning 90 degrees to face north for 21 seconds) before crisp "shoulder-arms" movement placing the rifle on the shoulder nearest the crowd, to signify that the soldier stands between the tomb, and any possible threat.

3) His gloves are moistened (even in winter), so that he may maintain his grip on his rifle.

4) He always carries his rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.

5) The Guards are usually changed every 30 minutes (sometimes every hour, or every two hours, depending upon the season and the time of day), 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

6) Physical traits required-They must be between 5'10" and 6'4" tall. Their waist cannot exceed 30".

7) After training, the guard is formally examined for proficiency in the duties and knowledge of ANC. A 100 question test must be passed. If the guard completes these trials, a temporary Tomb Guard's Badge is awarded to him.

8) This badge is one of the military's highest honors, and can be taken away if the guard does not maintain the highest military standards. The total number of recipients of this Badge is around 525. Their badges may be revoked, even after they leave the service, if they ever do anything that is deemed behavior unbecoming a Tomb Guard, or that would bring dishonor to the Tomb. As of early 2002, nine badges have been revoked.

9) Their shoes are customized with padded soles, and toe and heel plates, to reduce wear, and to aid the guards in a smoother stride, rather than a "marching" appearance. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Every guard spends 5 hours per day getting his uniform ready for guard duty, and they dress in front of a full length mirror.

10) Guards must spend much of their "off-duty" hours in rigorous training, rifle drills, uniform preparation, and learning the locations of the "175 notable people" buried in Arlington National cemetery.

Now just a few more questions-how many of these guards consider themselves to be Conservative, and how many consider themselves Liberal? Do you think one of these men voted for Kerry in 2004? I guess anything's possible, but somehow, I think I know the answer.

9/15/2005 10:25:00 PM |
  • Recieve permanent orders for my TGIB in 1989 as Asst. Relief Cmdr and eventually Relief Cmdr. Voted for Kerry, would love to see Senator McCain run in the next election. Will, however, vote for anyone besides President Bush. At least three of the Sentinels on my relief where Liberal in their political views. Another three were not really in one camp or the other. Two were Conservative.

    The one thing that set the Sentinels on my relief apart from some of the other individuals that I served with in the Army is that they were well educated and planning to go to college after their tour in TOG. It is that view of the world that, in my opinion, lends one more towards a liberal viewpoint.

    It is also this personality that leads them to the sort of duty and knowledge every sentinel has. Sentinel really understand, they really knew what it all was about and were not doing it for themselves. No nametags are worn, no glory or honor is looked for. They do it only for the Unknowns and for all the thousands upon thousands of Unkowns that they represent.

    And the fantasy of what a guard is, how they are chosen, what they have to endure, what restrictions are placed on them, is far less fantastic than the truth. The e-mail that began all of this is one that has been circulating around the internet for ages and while some of the facts are correct, a vast majority are not. It always makes me chuckle. Anyone cans speak to my wife for five minutes to know that this isn't the truth. One can find the truth out there if they care to look.

    If you really want to know what being a Sentinel is all about see "The Sentinel's Creed" at www.tombguard.org/creed.html

    That is what it is all about. As simply, yet complex, easy, yet impossible, and most of all a life long love of the ideal that led those men to do what was necessary. And all of us who were given the privildge to serve there, even for a day, were honored beyond anything that can be discribed.

    "It is he who commands the respect I protect..."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:30 AM  
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