Sunday, December 4, 2011


On Jeopardy! the Final Jeopardy answer was: how many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns?

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 after his about-face to begin his return walk and why?

***21 seconds for the same reason as answer number 1.

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. 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?

***Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

6. What are the physical traits of the guard?

***For a person to apply for guard duty at the Tomb, he must be between 5' 10" and 6' 2" tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30".

Guards 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 remainder of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the remainder of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform or the Tomb in any way.

After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin which is worn on his lapel signifying that he served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guards must obey these rules for the remainder of their lives or give up the wreath pins.

The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates which 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 six 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.

In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington DC, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier 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 service person. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, since 1930.

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