So, I was on TikTok and I happened upon this video of two people trespassing and getting too close to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the reaction from the guard was so powerful and scary, I thought it was worth sharing with you. The two people honestly looked like they were kinda lost, or didn’t realize they were doing anything wrong, so their reaction to his BOOMING voice was sheer terror, and man, did they get the hell outta dodge, quickly.
I saw this really cool article that talks about the actual guards, their duties, and what they’re thinking while they’re guarding the tomb. Army.com: Day and night, a U.S. Army sentinel from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment—the “Old Guard”—walks back and forth in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Their moves are exact. They do not smile, do not slouch, and do not flinch.
The sentinel, or guard, walks twenty-one steps along a rubber mat on the plaza in front of the Unknown from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War, as well as an empty crypt, honoring those lost in Vietnam. A sentinel’s shift lasts an hour (a half hour in the summer), until he or she is relieved in a changing-of-the-guard ceremony.
But what is a sentinel thinking the entire time they are walking in front of the Tomb? “You’re thinking about so many things about your outside performance,” explained Staff Sgt. Chadwick Winget, the Relief Commander. “My rifle angles, counting my twenty-one seconds, how I’m walking, and trying to make sure my walk stays nice and smooth.” Winget who joined the Old Guard in 2020 and began training as a sentinel in January of 2021, has “walked the mat” almost forty times and has conducted approximately 1,100 guard changes. According to him, most senior walkers in the sentinel platoon have between 800 to 1,000 walks.
“A good Tomb Guard is out there not letting their minds wander. They’re thinking about looking their best to honor the Unknowns,” said Winget, who prefers walking the mat to changing the guard, which is a more complex ceremony. Whereas, with walking the mat, “there’s less to focus on while you’re out there.”
This video is really short, but I think you’ll find it interesting.
I don’t know about you, but if I heard that guy yelling at me, I’d be running so fast, it’d make his head spin.
But seriously, what a loyal and dedicated hero. Much respect, and thanks to all that serve.
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