The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

"Here Rests In Honored Glory
An American Soldier
   Known But To God."

- For the millions of soldiers in marked and unmarked graves throughout the world -

"If any question why we died,
Tell them, Because our fathers lied."

- Kipling - 1918 -

- They Sold Our Blood For Money, Power, and Control -

Things to ponder on Memorial Day, on July 4th and Veteran's Day,
and every other day of the year that you know freedom.
Memorial Day

Here Rests In Honored Glory An American Soldier Known But To God.

So reads the inscription etched into the white marble tomb that marks the resting place of America's official unknown soldiers. The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery remains one of the United States' most revered sites, a permanent reminder of this country's commitment to honor those who died fighting for its freedom. Last week, [Sept 18, 2003] that commitment was upheld in a way some people might not have even noticed or even thought about.

When practically every government employee in Washington was beating a hasty retreat to avoid the aftereffects of Hurricane Isabel, a small group of men decided their commitment to duty, honor and country was more important than personal safety or comfort.

Tomb Guard Sentinels, the elite soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry regiment chosen to act as guards at the Tomb, opted to sustain their constant vigil at the Tomb of the Unknowns rather than flee the oncoming bad weather. To them it was a matter of honoring their personal and professional obligations to the men and women who served before them and who serve now - and obviously do not have the luxury of serving their country only when skies are blue and the sun shines down upon them.

Although the Tomb of the Unknowns is watched over by Tomb Guards 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of weather conditions, to have soldiers so duty-bound as to ignore their own personal well-being is an example of real patriotism and a real reminder of the sacrifices made to secure the principles of liberty.

[A contingency plan had been established that if winds reached 120 mph the guards could retreat from their usual exposed-to-the-elements posts in the tomb plaza to take up positions in the trophy room, which is above the tomb plaza and has a clear view of the sepulcher. (The Tomb of the Unknowns is a small box-like white building situated in an open area close to the middle of the cemetery.) This plan was not put into effect. ]

The Tomb of the Unknowns holds three sets of remains, one each from World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. A fourth set of remains from the Vietnam War used to be part of this august company but was formally disinterred in 1998 after DNA testing determined them to belong to First Lieutenant Michael Joseph Blassie. Lt. Blassie is now buried in his hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.

The tomb is guarded 24 hours a day and 365 days a year by specially chosen soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Regiment (Old Guard) stationed at nearby Fort Myer.

In addition to the main Tomb of the Unknowns, there are two additional burial sites at Arlington for Unknowns... The War of 1812 site with 14 unknown soldiers and the 1866 Civil War Site with the remains of 2,111 unknown soldiers. These were the first unknown soldiers buried at Arlington.

There is another, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers of Washington's Army in Washington Square, Philadelphia.

Various messages engraved on the wall of the memorial include: "Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness"; "The independence and liberty you possess are the work of joint councils and joint efforts, of common dangers, suffering, and success [Washington Farewell Address, Sept. 17, 1796]"; and "In unmarked graves within this square lie thousands of unknown soldiers of Washington's Army who died of wounds and sickness during the Revolutionary War."

The tomb of the Unknown Soldier itself bears the words:"Beneath this stone rests a soldier of Washington's army who died to give you liberty."

An eternal flame flickers in front of a wall bearing a replica of Jean Antoine Houdon's famous bronze sculpture of George Washington. Washington's eyes gaze eternally upon nearby Independence Hall.

God Bless the them all!!!

The Origins of Taps

Day is done,
gone the sun,
From the hills,
from the lake,
From the sky.
All is well,
safely rest,
God is nigh.

Go to sleep,
peaceful sleep,
May the soldier
or sailor,
God keep.
On the land
or the deep,
Safe in sleep.

Love, good night,
Must thou go,
When the day,
And the night
Need thee so?
All is well.
Speedeth all
To their rest.

Fades the light;
And afar
Goeth day,
And the stars
Shineth bright,
Fare thee well;
Day has gone,
Night is on.

Thanks and praise,
For our days,
'Neath the sun,
'Neath the stars,
'Neath the sky,
As we go,
This we know,
God is nigh.

An Old Soldier