Soldiers guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery have refused to abandon their post in the face of Hurricane Sandy today.
Tomb Sentinels from the Army’s Third Infantry Regiment’s “The Old Guard” have guarded the Tomb for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year since April 6, 1948 regardless of rain, sleet, snow or hurricanes, according to a posting to the unit’s Facebook site.
Arlington National Cemetery was closed to the public Monday because of the heavy wind and rains slashing through the area from the hurricane.
The Tomb is the resting place for unknown soldiers who sacrificed their lives defending America in World War I, War II and the Korean War. The Changing of the Guard is usually a popular tourist stop for people visiting Washington D.C.
While tourists will not be allowed to observe the national treasure Monday the soldiers will bravely remain at their posts. They stayed on duty during Hurricanes Isabel and Irene as well as the 2010 blizzard which shut down the capital for days.
Tomb Sentinels have the option of standing their watch over America’s fallen heroes under a tent when it rains. This green tent is adjacent to the Tomb. It is usually where the soldiers stand during wreath-laying ceremonies at the Tomb.
Normally the guard is changed every hour on the hour October 1 until March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than twice the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and cemetery closing time is extended from 5 to 7 p.m.
A relief commander conducts a detailed white-gloved inspection of the weapon of the relieving sentinel, checking each part of the rifle once.
All three of the sentinels salute the buried heroes who have symbolically been awarded the Medal of Honor.
The Guards of Honor at the Tomb of the Unknowns are highly motivated and proud to honor all American service members who are “Known But to God,” according to the Arlington National Cemetery website.
Spectators are asked to remain silent throughout the solemn ceremony.
The Guards of the Tomb deserve the respect of all Americans for their unflinching determination to do their duty in the face of one of the worst storms Washington D.C. has ever faced.
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