At Arlington National Cemetery, there are 21 steps that lead up to a hilltop where the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier sits overlooking Washington D.C.
There are six wreaths embracing the tomb, one for each of the six major campaigns of World War I. The back of the tomb reads, “here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.” Four soldiers are laid to rest at this tomb, one from WWI, one from WWII, one from the Korean War and one from the Vietnam War.
Sentinels guard the tomb around the clock during holidays, extreme weather conditions and even when the cemetery is closed. This has been the practice since 1937. You can see the perfection just by looking at the ground where they step; the Sentinels are so on point that they’ve perfectly consistent marks in the ground.
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to witness what takes place at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, you know that these men are the utmost professional and always on top of their game. The highest of standards apply to these soldiers who make it through rigorous testing and requirements to be a Sentinel Soldier.
There is a guard changing ceremony each time a new guard takes shift. It is amazing to watch and always perfectly implemented.
Get a peek into the life of the Sentinel soldiers in the video below:
This behind the scenes look shows exactly what it takes to become one of the most prideful positions in the military and showcases the amount of self-pride these soldiers have for doing their job perfectly day in and day out. Sentinels come from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment “The Old Guard,” serving since 1784. Soldier selection comes on a volunteer basis.
Sentinels must endure intense training in a series of categories. Perfection is a must for a soldier to truly qualify for this duty. They are trained to properly and perfectly march, carry their weapon, they must have rare and extensive knowledge about the rich history of the tomb, and they must adhere to the extreme uniform policies which are held to the highest standards. Sentinels must take extreme pride in their uniform.
Everything the soldiers do while walking the mat is done in steps of 21. For example, after 21 steps, they stop and face the tomb for 21 seconds. They change the position of their weapon to the other shoulder every 21 seconds. The 21 represents the 21-gun salute.
The Sentinels work in 24-hour shifts they live in housing that is under the tomb. The assignment is a great deal of their life, yet you won’t see a Sentinel complain.