Video to come, technical difficulties...
The big event of the day was a trip to The Arlington Cemetery with a group of IWU friends. We checked out the cemetery, The Tomb of Unknown Soldiers, and the Kennedys' tombstones. The changing of the guard was really, really neat to watch.
And here's a bunch of trivia and facts about the guards...
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 twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given to 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 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 thirty minutes, twenty-four 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'
and his waist size cannot exceed 30.
They must commit 2 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 or the tomb in any way. After 2 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.
The 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 6 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. Every guard spends 5 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 2 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 Soldiers were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer. 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.
After the trip to the cemetery, I wandered around Georgetown a bit more and ventured to another bakery...Baked and Wired. They also had some amazing cupcakes and more. I decided to go with the Chai Cupcake - Chai is one of my favorite things ever as well. Also VERY GOOD. After I enjoyed that and strolling around, I walked over to our dinner host's house to meet up with the group and talk about the ride.
Our dinner host was Ronnie Dillon, mother of Katie Bollbach, one of the founders of FACE AIDS. We had some awesome conversation over some amazing Middle Eastern tapas. After dinner we checked out D.C.'s Chinatown and headed back to our housing at the Stanford at Washington house.
Another long, tiring day, with a bunch of stuff left on the list for tomorrow. I still need to hit up the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials and the National Zoo - it's only a block away from us!