A quiz and facts about Arlington National Cemetery

Arlington Cemetery quiz.

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

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

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

Answer: 21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1.

3.  Why are his gloves wet?  

Answer: His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.  

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

Answer: He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.  After his march across the path, he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.

5. How often are the guards changed?  

Answer: Guards are changed every 30 minutes, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

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

Answer: 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 inches. Other requirements of the Guard:  They must commit two 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 {fighting} or the tomb in any way. After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.  

Other facts

The guard’s 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.

The first six 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.  Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the  most decorated soldier of WW II} of Hollywood fame.

Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

In 2003, as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, D.C., our U.S. Senate and House took two 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 1930.

God  bless and keep them.

DAV vans

The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) organization is running a VAHC van from Durango on Tuesdays and Thursdays — call Mike Dunaway, 247-2198 — and from the Farmington area on Mondays and Wednesdays — all Harriet Mulnix (505) 793-1782.

Durango VA Clinic

The Durango VA Outpatient Clinic is located at 400 South Camino Del Rio, Suite G, next to Big 5 Sports. Phone number is 247-2214.

Further information

For information on these and other veterans’ benefits, call or stop by the Archuleta County Veterans Service Office located at the Senior Center in the Pagosa Springs Community Center on Hot Springs Boulevard. The office number is 731-3837, the fax number is 264-4014, cell number is 946-6648, and e-mail is afautheree@archuletacounty.org. The office is open from 8 to 4, Monday through Friday. Bring your DD Form 214 (Discharge) for application for VA programs, and for filing in the VSO office.