Monday, October 29, 2012

Despite the Storm, They Stand Guard

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier--Arlington, VA

We had the privilege to go to Arlington National Cemetery on our trip to New York and DC.  There are many amazing things to see there, like Kennedy's grave, but the one thing we had to see was the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers.  

 "The tombs typically contain the remains of a dead soldier who is unidentified (or "known but to God" as the stone is inscribed)and thought to be impossible ever to identify, so that he might serve as a symbol for all of the unknown dead wherever they fell. The anonymity of the entombed soldier is key to the symbolism of the monument: since his or her identity is unknown, it could theoretically be the tomb of anyone who fell in service of the nation in question, and therefore serves as a monument to all of their sacrifices. Much work goes into trying to find a certain soldier, and to verify that it is indeed one of the relevant nation's soldiers."

Where the Tomb of the Unknown is located, there is also an amphitheater attached where they conduct funeral services for those that are buried at National Cemetary.  I was immediately moved by the preparation of a service that soon will be taking place.  Another soldier had sacrificed his life for our country.  A true American! I felt so sad for his family.  Did he leave a wife and children behind? These family face the ultimate sacrifice, we just reap the benefits.

As I sat that there that day, in the brutal heat, I couldn't hardly move or speak.  It was amazing to watch these young men honor the fallen soldiers. Soldiers that could not be identified, yet their sacrifice will forever be honored.  It doesn't matter the day, whether its a holiday, or the worst weather conditions, they are there. Proudly honoring the fallen.  

 The Requirements of the Guard: They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. They cannot swear in public FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES and cannot disgrace the uniform {fighting} or the tomb in any way.  After TWO YEARS, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.  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. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe E. Lewis {the boxer} and Medal of Honor winner Audie Murphy, {the most decorated soldier of WWII} of Hollywood fame. Every guard spends FIVE HOURS A DAY getting his uniforms ready for guard duty.

Today we have a hurricane barreling down on this area.  I received a picture today that just humbled me. 

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

They are there.....rain or shine.....guarding the tomb. Even though, for their protection, they have been given permission to leave their post during major hurricanes and storms, these young men refuse.  The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier has been continuously guarded since 1931.  Yes, that is 365 days a year and 24 hours a day.  It has never once been left unattended.  That is AMAZING!

Looking at this picture, a thought came to my mind.  We are like these soldiers, marching back in forth, but in prayer.  What is in the "tombs" that we are guarding?  Is it our family? Our own souls?  Then the storms come.   It gets really bad and we want to retreat and get away from the storm.  But who or what are we leaving behind?   I want to have the honor of one of these soldiers.  I will not leave or retreat from my post.  We must be commited and dedicated to prayer for our family and of course, our own souls. Stand tall like these soldiers, and get a resolve that no matter what, you are there and will not retreat! Not matter what storm comes your way! (And yes, that means 365 days a year/24/7)

Soldier Praying

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