Today is Memorial Day, a day on which every American should be grateful for the sacrifices of members of our military, both past and present. We enjoy our current freedoms only because, over the history of our Republic, members of the armed forces have been willing to fight and die for the United States of America and its citizens.
One of the finest places to reflect upon the sacrifices of our soldiers, sailors, and airmen is Arlington National Cemetery, that peaceful resting place on a hill within view of Washington, D.C. The changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a particularly stirring reminder of those sacrifices. Silent, somber, and simple, the ceremony of the changing of the guard does great honor to the remains of the unknown soldiers from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War that are entombed in the white marble vault.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been continuously guarded since 1937 by soldiers who call themselves Sentinels. The changing of the guard ceremony is about ten minutes long and is full of symbolism, where every step and second are scripted and have special meaning. Some of the frequently asked questions about the ceremony are answered here. The inscription on the tomb also is moving: “Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God.”
Happy Memorial Day to all, and heartfelt thanks to all veterans and active members of our armed forces.