To serve as a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery is considered one of the greatest honours in the military. The tomb itself has been under continuous guard, every second of every day, since 1948.Tomb Sentinel is a volunteer position that accepts fewer than 20 per cent of all applicants, and of those only a small percentage go on to become actual Tomb Guards. The high attrition rate makes it the second least awarded US military decoration after the Army Astronaut Badge.
This is not the first time guards have experienced a hurricane. In 2003, for the first time in American history, the sentinels, as the post marchers are called, were given the choice to seek shelter away from Hurricane Isabel. They did not. The choice was given them again in 2011, when Irene stormed ashore. And again, they did not leave their post.
Today, the sentinels face Hurricane Sandy. The winds may reach 120 mph, and the sentinels have the option to take refuge in a safe house, the “trophy room,” which overlooks the tombs.
Our guess is that they’ll remain on post throughout.
This photo was posted to the First Army’s Division East Facebook page today, with a graph stating that the guards are still on post in weather conditions surrounding Hurricane Sandy.
Photo: First Army Division East
The Sentinels Creed:
My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted. In the responsibility bestowed on me never will I falter. And with dignity and perseverance my standard will remain perfection. Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability. It is he who commands the respect I protect. His bravery that made us so proud. Surrounded by well meaning crowds by day alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.
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