TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN SOLDIER
During each pass across the tomb of the Unknowns the soldier guard takes 21 steps , which alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary. He hesitate 21 seconds after his about face to begin his return walk for the same reason. The guard’s gloves are moistened to prevent him losing his grip on his rifle. He carry his 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.
Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, 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 and marched, in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, soaked to the skin. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.
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. 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 two 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.
Their 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.
Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty. 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. Among the notables is Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII.