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Tuesday, May 20, 2008


“All gave some... some gave all.”

Do you know what Memorial Day is? I mean beyond a day off from work, picnics in the park, traveling to see family? For the complete history please click here: History of Memorial Day.

Memorial Day was officially declared in 1868. It was a day to remember our civil war dead, on both sides. It began in the northern states, beginning with New York, but eventually the southern states joined in. It has evolved throughout the years to include all of our war dead from all wars.

This is a day to honor those brave men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. The “price of freedom is seldom free”. Will you find the time to go and clean up a gravesite of one of your local fallen solders at a local cemetery? Perhaps place a flag? I know I have never done this. But I know that this Memorial Day, I will. I will go to my local VFW post and find out what I can do to honor them. It’s only one day. This is not “my” holiday, to do with as I choose; this is their holiday, to honor them. Just a small way we can all observe this holiday is by following the "National Moment of Remembrance" resolution that was passed on Dec 2000 which asks that at 3 p.m. local time, for all Americans "To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of Remembrance and Respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to "Taps." When I read what the Sentinels of the Tomb of the Unknowns do each and every day, a moment of silence just doesn’t seem like enough.

Details below are from the website of the Arlington National Cemetery

The guard is changed every hour on the hour Oct. 1 to March 31 in an elaborate ritual. From April 1 through September 30, there are more than double the opportunities to view the change because another change is added on the half hour and the cemetery closing time moves from 5 to 7 p.m.

An impeccably uniformed relief commander appears on the plaza to announce the Changing of the Guard. Soon the new sentinel leaves the Quarters and unlocks the bolt of his or her M-14 rifle to signal to the relief commander to start the ceremony. The relief commander walks out to the Tomb and salutes, then faces the spectators and asks them to stand and stay silent during the ceremony.

The relief commander conducts a detailed white-glove inspection of the weapon, checking each part of the rifle once. Then, the relief commander and the relieving sentinel meet the retiring sentinel at the center of the matted path in front of the Tomb. All three salute the Unknowns who have been symbolically given the Medal of Honor. Then the relief commander orders the relieved sentinel, "Pass on your orders." The current sentinel commands, "Post and orders, remain as directed." The newly posted sentinel replies, "Orders acknowledged," and steps into position on the black mat. When the relief commander passes by, the new sentinel begins walking at a cadence of 90 steps per minute.

The Tomb Guard marches 21 steps down the black mat behind the Tomb, turns, faces east for 21 seconds, turns and faces north for 21 seconds, then takes 21 steps down the mat and repeats the process. After the turn, the sentinel executes a sharp "shoulder-arms" movement to place the weapon on the shoulder closest to the visitors to signify that the sentinel stands between the Tomb and any possible threat. Twenty-one was chosen because it symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed -- the 21-gun salute.

Duty time when not "walking" is spent in the Tomb Guard Quarters below the Memorial Display Room of the Memorial Amphitheater where they study Cemetery "knowledge," clean their weapons and help the rest of their relief prepare for the Changing of the Guard. The guards also train on their days off.

The Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and in any weather by Tomb Guard sentinels. Sentinels, all volunteers, are considered to be the best of the elite 3rd U.S. Infantry
The Tomb Guard Quarters is staffed using a rotating Kelly system. Each relief has the following schedule: first day on, one day off, second day on, one day off, third day on, four days off. Then, their schedule repeats.

"Soldiers never die until they are forgotten. Tomb Guards never forget"

Somehow a few flags on a few graves really don’t seem like much of an imposition.

"It's the Soldier, not the reporter,
who has given us freedom of the press.
It's the Soldier, not the poet,
who has given us freedom of speech.
It's the Soldier, not the campus organizer,
who has given us freedom to demonstrate.
It's the Soldier, not the lawyer,
who has given us the right to a fair trial.
And it's the Soldier who salutes the flag,
who serves the flag,
whose coffin is draped in the flag,
that allows the protester to burn the flag"

Thanks for taking a moment and remembering our Vets.

Memorial Day Trivia Contest


Take part in the Memorial Day Trivia Contest. It’s fun, easy, informative and you will learn interesting facts about this historic holiday.

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