Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?

21 steps. It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute, which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?

He does not execute an about face. He stops on the 21st step, then turns and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds. Then he turns to face back down the mat.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

3. Why are his gloves wet?

His gloves are moistened to improve his grip on the rifle.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

4. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and if not, why not?

He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path, he executes two turns and changes the rifle to the outside shoulder.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

5. How often are the guards changed?

Guards are changed every thirty minutes during the summer (April 1 to September 30) and every hour during the winter (October 1 to March 31). During the hours the cemetary is closed, the guard is changed every 2 hours.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?

For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5' 11" and 6' 4" tall and have a 30" waist.

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. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.

It takes 8 hours to prep the uniform for the next work day.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!" Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a serviceperson. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1937.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

We can be very proud of our young men and women in the service no matter where they serve.

God Bless and keep them.

Author unknown.

For more information on the Tomb of the Unknown and the Guard of Honor, see

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