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Did You Know ?

These Interesting

Facts About . . .

Tomb Guard


The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier



Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.


The facts that you will find on this web page about the Tomb of the Unknown are an amalgamation from various internet web sites that contain factual and reliable information regarding this national monument. Every effort has been made to ensure that the facts are as accurate as humanly possible, sources permitting. CHW


Sources Used: The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, Arlington National Cemetery Organization, Society of the Honor Guard - Tomb Guard Organization, NationMaster Encyclopedia, and the Military District of Washington.


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Arlington National Cemetery.

Christmas Season at Arlington National Cemetery


Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell,

the line has held..
Peace, peace, and farewell...

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Some in Washington Sought No Shelter!

God bless them, they never looked better!

Hurricane Sandy - Category 2 hurricane (SSHS)

Formed: October 22, 2012, Dissipated: October 31, 2012

The Tomb has been guarded, every minute of every day since 1937.

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The World War I unknown is below the marble sarcophagus. The other unknowns are beneath the white slabs on the ground. They are (from left to right), the World War II unknown, the Vietnam unknown, and the Korean War unknown.



The Tomb sarcophagus was placed above the grave of the Unknown Soldier of World War I. West of the World War I Unknown are the crypts of unknowns from World War II (north), Korea (south)and Vietnam (middle). Those three graves are marked with white marble slabs flush with the plaza.


The white marble sarcophagus has a flat-faced form and is relieved at the corners and along the sides by neo-classic pilasters, or columns, set into the surface.


The marble for the Tomb of the Unknowns was furnished by the Vermont Marble Company of Danby, Vt. The marble was quarried in Marble, Colo., and is called Yule Marble. The Tomb consists of seven pieces of rectangular marble:

Four pieces in sub base; weight -- 15 tons
One piece in base or plinth; weight -- 16 tons
One piece in die; weight -- 36 tons
One piece in cap; weight -- 12 tons

The dimensions of the Tomb:


Width -- 8 feet
Length -- 14 feet, 11 inches
Height -- 1 foot, 10 inches

Width -- 6 feet, 4 inches
Length -- 12 feet, 3 1/2 inches
Height -- 5 feet, 5 inches

Width -- 6 feet, 8 inches
Length -- 12 feet, 7 inches
Height -- 1 foot, 1 3/4 inches


Sub base:
Height -- 2 feet, 6 inches




Carved on the East side (the front of the Tomb, which faces Washington, D.C.) is a composite of three figures, commemorative of the spirit of the Allies of World War I. In the center of the panel stands Victory (female). On the right side, a male figure symbolizes Valor. On the left side stands Peace, with her palm branch to reward the devotion and sacrifice that went with courage to make the cause of righteousness triumphant.


The north and south sides are divided into three panels by Doric pilasters. In each panel is an inverted wreath. On the west, or rear, panel (facing the Amphitheater) is inscribed:









The first Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was a sub base and a base or plinth. It was slightly smaller than the present base. This was torn away when the present Tomb was started Aug. 27, 1931. The Tomb was completed and the area opened to the public 9:15 a.m. April 9, 1932, without any ceremony.

Cost of the Tomb -- $48,000
Sculptor -- Thomas Hudson Jones
Architect -- Lorimer Rich
Contractors -- Hagerman & Harris, New York City
Inscription -- Author Unknown

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The six wreaths carved into the north and south of the tomb represent six major battles of World War I: Chateau-Thierry, the Ardennes, Oisiu-Eisue, Meuse-Argonne, Belleau Wood and the Somme. The Battle of Chateau Thierry was fought on July 18, 1918. ... The Battle of the Ardennes was one of the opening battles of World War I. It took place from August 21-23, 1914, part of the Battle of the Frontiers...


The Meuse-Argonne Offensive was a major battle of World War I. It was the biggest operation and victory of the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) in that war. ... The Battle of Belleau Wood was a battle of the first World War. ... The 1916 Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the First World War, with more than one million casualties...


World War I was primarily a European conflict with many facets: immense human sacrifice, stalemate trench warfare, and the use of new, devastating weapons - tanks, aircraft, machine-guns, and poison gas...


World War II was a truly global conflict with many facets: immense human suffering, fierce indoctrinations, and the use of new, extremely devastating weapons like the atom bomb...


The Korean War (Korean: from June 25, 1950 to July 27, 1953, was a conflict between North Korea and South Korea...

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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.



2. How long does he hesitate before he begins

his return walk and why?


"Walking the Mat"

There is a meticulous ritual the guard follows when watching over the graves:


1. The soldier walks 21 steps across the Tomb.

2. On the 21st step, the soldier makes a 90-degree turn and faces the Tomb for 21 seconds.

3. The soldier then makes another 90-degree turn to face back down the mat and changes his weapon to the outside shoulder.

4. After 21 seconds, step 1 is repeated.

5. This is repeated until the soldier is relieved of duty at the Changing of the Guards.



3. Why are his gloves wet?


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?


He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb.



5. How often are the guards changed?


According to the Military District of Washington, "The guard is changed every hour on the hour from 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.


During the hours the cemetery is closed, the guard is changed every 2 hours. The Tomb is guarded, and has been guarded, every minute of every day since 1937.



6. Do the Guards wear special shoes ?


The shoes are standard issue military dress shoes. They are built up so the sole and heel are equal in height. This allows the Sentinel to stand so that his back is straight and perpendicular to the ground. A side effect of this is that the Sentinel can "roll" on the outside of the build up as he walks down the mat. This allows him to move in a fluid fashion. If he does this correctly, his hat and bayonet will appear to not "bob" up and down with each step. It gives him a more formal and smooth look to his walk, rather than a "marching" appearance.

The soles have a steel tip on the toe and a "horseshoe" steel plate on the heel. This prevents wear on the sole and allows the Sentinel to move smoothly during his movements when he turns to face the Tomb and then back down the mat.

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 Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror,

and their uniforms are impeccably kept.

There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on their uniforms.



Among the notables buried at Arlington Cemetery are:

President Taft, President Kennedy, Joe Lewis (the boxer)

and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, (the most 
decorated soldier of WWII) of Hollywood fame.






God Bless and keep them.


Thank You!



To Learn More About

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier,

Check Out These Web Sites:


Society of the Honor Guard - Tomb of the Unknowns

Military District of Washington

Arlington National Cemetery



Additional "Tomb Facts" on This Web Site.

Tomb of the Unknown - Frequently Asked Questions

Help Break the Chain of incorrect tomb information.


Soldier Playing Taps.

Learn The History of Military Taps


If You Like Animals, You'll Find This Worth Reading.!


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I don't usually suggest that my web pages be forwarded, but I'd be

very proud if this one reached as many individuals as possible.

We can all be very proud of the men and women serving

in our nation's military, wherever they're stationed.


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 Updated: November 22, 2016 04:44 PM.