Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quote of the Week 76 - Modern Day Samurai

Excerpted from an article in the January 2009 issue of the Decatur Dispatch about the servicemen who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. What discipline concerning these modern day samurai! It would be interesting to interview some of them to explore what kind of insights they gained and impact their service has had on their lives.

“In 2003, as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senators and Representatives took two days off in 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. They 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 serviceperson.

“Interesting facts about the dedicated guards of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier: Guards are changed every thirty minutes, 24/7, 365 days a year. The tomb has been patrolled continuously in this fashion since 1930. Guards must commit 2 years to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty or swear in public for the rest of their lives. After their two-year duty, the guards are given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying their service. Guards must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin. There are only 400 presently worn.

“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 can be no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniforms. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror. Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

“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.”

1 comment:

Steve Gold said...

There have been a few email communications generated by this quote about some inaccuracies (mostly exaggerations) that I am summarizing below:

I have received an email pointing out some inaccuracies in the above quote. Fortunately, the inaccuracies are not all that egregious, as are some things floating around the Internet that Snopes catches. But I am disappointed that a print publication was not a little more thorough in checking its sources, and I regret forwarding on inaccurate information.

From the email:

Some of the information presented in this news article is inaccurate. It comes from an e-mail sent around years ago. For an excellent analysis of what pieces of information are true and what aren't see the following article:

I emailed the publication’s editor about this, and received the following response:

I appreciate your calling this to our attention. We received the article from
one of our long-time advertisers who is usually very accurate in her research.
Guess we both made a mistake! We will surely check this type of story out more
carefully in the future on Snopes.

This is the first time in 17 years that we have made this kind of mistake, and
hope it will be the last.

Marge Heal
Senior Editor

Quote of the Week 381 - Heaven

Heaven is all round,

Translated to sound.

--Michael Hedges



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