ARLINGTON CEMETERY Jeopardy Question: On "Jeopardy" the other 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! It's a shame as is really an awesome sight to watch if you ever go to Arlington. Q. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why? A. 21 steps. It symbolizes the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary. Here are other fascinating facts. Q. How long does the guard hesitate after his turn to begin his return walk and why? A. 21 seconds for the same reason as the previous answer. Q. Why are the guard's gloves wet? A. His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle. Q. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and, if not, why not? A. 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. Q. How often are the guards changed? A. Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. Q. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to? A. To apply for guard duty at the tomb, the soldier must be between 5' 10' and 6' 2' tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30. Q. How long do they serve? A. Typically they serve 18 months. The Tomb Guard Identification Badge, first awarded in 1957, is a honor for which a guard qualifies by “flawlessly performing his duty for several months” and passing a test. The 500th Tomb Guard Identification Badge was awarded in early 2002, and the total number of recipients is now about 525. The award is, as its name states, a badge worn on the pocket of a uniform jacket The shoes are standard issue military dress shoes. They are built up so the sole and heel are equal in height. This allows the Sentinel to stand so that his back is straight and perpendicular to the ground. A side effect of this is that the Sentinel can “roll” on the outside of the build up as he walks down the mat. This allows him to move in a fluid fashion. If he does this correctly, his hat and bayonet will appear to not “bob” up and down with each step. It gives him a more formal and smooth look to his walk, rather than a “marching” appearance. The soles have a steel tip on the toe and a “horseshoe” steel plate on the heel. This prevents wear on the sole and allows the Sentinel to move smoothly during his movements when he turns to face the Tomb and then back down the mat. There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror. During the first six months of duty a guard must memorize all the notables who are buried at Arlingtont and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe Louis (Best Heavyweight Boxer of all time} Medal of Honor Recipient Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII and of Hollywood fame. Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty. In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 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 their 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 tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930. God Bless and keep these men.