The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
and The American Legion
On March 4, 1921, Congress approved selecting one American serviceman who had been killed in World War I and whose remains were never identified be brought back to the states and buried in the burial plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater in Arlington Cemetery.
On October 22, 1921, the mortal remains of four unidentifiable U.S. soldiers that had been killed in France in World War I and later exhumed on Memorial Day, 1921, were convoyed to Chalons-sur-Marne. They were escorted by three soldiers and an American Legion veteran.
Laid out in state in ceremonial catafalques before him, a highly-decorated soldier of the war, Sgt. Edward Younger, was given the most prestigious honor of selecting from the four the one soldier that was to be taken back in the U.S. as being THE “unknown soldier.” Younger himself had fought bravely at Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel, the Somme Offensive and the Meuse-Argonne Offensive.
The chosen fallen comrade was escorted across the Atlantic to the U.S. and taken to Washington, D.C. On Veterans Day, he was laid to rest in what would be the new memorial, a three-level marble tomb. This lad was to represent all of those American service members who fought and died for this country, and whose remains were never identified.
In February 1969, in recognition of its upcoming 50th anniversary, The American Legion paid for and had installed a special $100,000 lighting system for what had become the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The memorial had by then been added to by two unknown warriors: one from World War II and one from Korea, both of which had been interred back on Memorial Day, 1958.
A month later, on March 15 1969, exactly 50 years after the American Legion’s birth, President Nixon pressed a button that activated the new lighting system.
An additional unknown from the Vietnam conflict was interred into the tomb by President Reagan on Memorial Day, 1984, but that individual was later exhumed in May 1998 after his body was identified through DNA testing as being USAF 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972.
In 1999, the Pentagon announced that no new remains would be interred in the tomb, since new technological advances like DNA testing would make fallen comrades remaining unknown very unlikely.
Tomb of the Unknowns: Guards
One Jeopardy one night, the final question was "How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns?"
All three contestants missed it.
1. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the Tomb of the Unknowns, and why?
Ans: 21 steps: It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute whichis the highest honor given any military or foreign
2. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
Ans: 21 seconds for the same reason as answer No. 1.
3. Why are his gloves wet?
Ans: 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?
Ans: 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?
Ans: Guards are changed every thirty minutes and every hour in the winter.
6. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
Ans: 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.
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.
However, Guards have regulations they must strictly follow:
The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.
The guards wear special shoes:
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.
In 2003, as Hurricane Isabelle approached Washington D.C., both houses of U.S. Congress took two 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 Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment.
The Guards respectfully declined the offer, "No way, Sir!"
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 same thing happened in October, 2012, as Hurricane Sandy slammed into the capital and the government shut down, all the guards resolutely remained on duty, guarding the Tomb.
Thus, the tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, since 1930.
God Bless and keep these Guards.
The very first oath of enlistment for United States servicemembers goes all the way back to the Revolutionary War. The Second Continental Congress voted on 14 June, 1775 to create a continental army, to be commanded by General George Washington (who was so appointed the next day). As a part of that act, they set down an oath that was to be taken when one enlisted. Each man had to raise his right arm and say:
"I _____ have, this day, voluntarily enlisted myself as a soldier in the American Continental Army for one year, unless sooner discharged; And I do bind myself to conform, in all instances, to such rules and regulations, as are, or shall be, established for the government of the said Army."
The oath was amended by that congress the next year. On September 20, 1776, they passed the Articles of War. In Section 3, Article 1, the words were changed to read:
"I _____ swear (or affirm) to be trued to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies opposers whatsoever; and to observe and obey the orders of the Continental Congress, and the orders of the Generals and officers set over me by them."
When the war ended and the U.S. Constitution written, the oath was again changed by the First Congress on
September 29, 1789.
The oath read in two parts:
"I ______ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States."
"I _______ do solemnly swear (or affirm) to bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and to serve them honestly and faithfully, against all their enemies or opposers whatsoever, and to observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States of America, and the orders of the officers appointed over me."
The American Legion
Reynoldsburg Post 798
P.O. Box 58
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068
The next regularly scheduled monthly post meeting will be on Thursday,
March 6th, 2018, at 1900 hrs. at the Eagles Club, 1623 Brice Rd, Reynoldsburg,