Sentinels continue to guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during Winter Storm Stella
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is guarded by the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment
The tomb is guarded 365 days a year since July 1, 1937
The Unknown Soldier was selected by US Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger in 1921
As many across the east coast bunker down for Winter Storm Stella, it is just another day at work for the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment, more commonly known as The Old Guard. Despite harsh winter weather, Sentinels go about their daily duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier as if it were any other day.
Since July 1, 1937, Sentinels have kept guard over the Tomb 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of any weather threats. Just over a year ago The Old Guard carried out their duties as Winter Storm Jonas blasted the east coast.
During Jonas, Sentinels were able to stand near the plaza in an enclosure called “The Box” for two hours at a time.
Yesterday, The Old Guard Twitter account tweeted a time-lapse video of the sunrise before the storm.
Sentinel’s assigned to the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) stand guard for a beautiful sunrise before tonight’s predicted snowfall pic.twitter.com/k5TZzbd4Ge
— The Old Guard (@USArmyOldGuard) March 13, 2017
Today, a picture tweeted out showed a lone Sentinel guarding the Tomb as Stella came in.
— The Old Guard (@USArmyOldGuard) March 14, 2017
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The Old Guard is the oldest active-duty infantry regiment in the Army. The name came from Gen. Winfield Scott during a victory parade in Mexico City in 1847 following the Mexican War.
The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier sits atop a hill in Arlington National Cemetery. On March 4, 1921, Congress approved the burial of an unknown soldier killed in World War I in the plaza of the new Memorial Amphitheater. To the west of the World War I crypt are the crypts for World War II, Korea, and Vietnam.
A white marble sarcophagus was placed over the grave. The east panel of the sarcophagus, which faces Washington DC, features Greek figures representing Peace, Victory, and Valor. There is a total of six sculptured wreaths, three on each side, that represent the six major campaigns of World War I.
Inscribed on the back of the tomb reads, “Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.”
Selecting the Unknown Soldier
On Memorial Day, 1921, four unknown soldiers were exhumed from four World War I cemeteries in France. All four soldiers were placed in identical caskets and US Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger selected the unknown soldier. Younger was wounded in combat and highly decorated for valor. He received the Distinguished Service Medal in “The Great War, the war to end all wars.”
On Oct. 24, 1921, Younger selected the casket of the Unknown Soldier in the Chalons-sur-Marne, France, City Hall with a “spray of white roses” on one of the caskets. He then picked the third casket on the left. The Unknown Soldier was transported to America on the USS Olympia, while the other three caskets were buried in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery in France.
Once in America, the Unknown Soldier stayed in the Capitol rotunda until Armistice Day, 1921. On Nov. 11, 1921, President Warren G. Harding officiated the ceremonies for the Unknown Soldier.
For the first years of the Tomb’s existence it was not under guard, but due to vandalism in 1925, a civilian guard used to watch over the Tomb. In 1926, a US Army soldier would guard the Tomb during cemetery hours. In 1937, the Tomb was to be guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Since July 1, 1937, someone has stood guard over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier every minute of every day.