Gwen Peterson: At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a Tomb Guard keeps constant watch and care | TheFencePost.com

Gwen Peterson: At the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a Tomb Guard keeps constant watch and care

Gwen Petersen
Big Timber, Mont.

In the current firestorm of political thrusts, parries, runaway egos and confusing mayhem, it's good to remember who protects, guards and keeps our country free.

TWENTY ONE STEPS

At Arlington National Cemetery

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Is guarded continuously 24-seven

No matter what the weather

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A Tomb Guard works six hours a day

To prepare his uniform

Of heavy wool — worn in summer heat

Or blizzard or thunderstorm

A Tomb Guard learns seventeen pages

About the Cemetery

He learns locations of 300 graves

And who is therein buried

A Tomb Guard marches twenty-one steps

Along a narrow mat

Laid across the Unknown's Tomb

A path of funeral black

The twenty-one steps symbolize

A twenty-one gun salute

The nation's highest military honor

Bestowed to the brave and the few

Taking twenty-one steps, the guard faces east

And pauses for twenty-one seconds

Then facing north, to his outside shoulder,

He changes out his weapon

Waiting again for twenty-one seconds

Then twenty-one paces back

Along the mat laid across the Tomb,

The mat of funeral black

Turning once more toward the east

He waits twenty-one seconds

Then faces south; to his outer shoulder

He changes out his weapon

On the Tomb's west panel words are inscribed

Words that cherish freedom

Read them with respect and heartfelt sorrow

For this Unknown American Eagle

HERE RESTS IN

HONORED GLORY

AN AMERICAN

SOLDIER

KNOWN BUT TO GOD ❖

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