THEY GO UNNOTICED…THOSE WHO GUARD THE TOMB
There is no name to remember
It isn’t necessary. They stand their watch. Their names, no one knows.
They would have it no other way.
The SENTIINEL who guards the Tomb.
Recently I was blessed by going to Washington, D.C. on an Honor Flight. I was not
Prepared for the experience. It was amazing from start to finish. And, Oh, the finish at the Ft. Wayne Airport! To be welcomed by thousands of cheering, applauding people. I was blessed beyond measure.
Add to it my companion that day was my youngest son, Jason, an Air Force veteran. A bucket list item for sure. Thank you doesn’t express our gratitude for everything that was done for us.
Let me tell you about a group of heroes that virtually go unnoticed. The Sentinels of the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier. These are the young men and women who give the ultimate sacrifice to their calling. Nothing prevents them from completing what they are there to do. No matter the weather or time of day or night. They march 21 steps on that stretch of carpet, stop, click their heels, switch shoulders with their rifle, turn and march 21 steps in the other direction. The 21 paces symbolize a 21-gun salute. This continues minute after minute, hour after hour, Every day. During the daytime, they are relieved every half hour, at night they are relieved every hour. Each team of Sentinels commits to a 26 hour shift.
These extraordinary examples of American exceptionalism commit themselves to this elite group for 2 to 3 years. The only group more difficult to become a member of is NASA. The attrition rate is something like 70 to 90 percent. They are the epitome of “Elite” soldier. Their appearance is impeccable in every sense of the word. Everything about their uniform must be within 1/65 of an inch. And it is checked. The preparation time for the uniform is about 6 hours. From their haircut, which is high and tight to the mirror like finish on their shoes. They present a striking image to say the least.
They give you pause and your heart to swell with pride. These are the very best examples of our young men and women that this nation needs to know more about.
As they march in freezing cold or the pouring rain they need to be remembered by this grateful nation for what they do. So very few can make the grade and become a Sentinel.
We are constantly barraged by negative news that it is refreshing indeed to witness such a fine example of young men and women. They are not the “snowflakes” that need safe zones because they feel threatened on their college campuses. These are the ones that answer the call. They are the ones that will stand on that wall or guard that gate. Those dissenting voices can thank people like this for their freedom to act the way they do. They are only tolerant when you agree with them. It is easy to be brave on campus when you’re not risking anything.
Theodore Roosevelt wrote. “no man is worth his salt who is not ready always to risk his body, to risk his well-being, to risk his life, in a great cause.” The cause of freedom that this nation has provided from its beginning has come at a great price. We have shed our blood on forgotten battlefields, in air battles and at sea to provide the very freedom we all enjoy.
These Sentinels that go unnoticed are the finest examples of those that are ready to protect and preserve what we hold so dear.
John Snyder Vietnam Veteran U.S. Navy