Editorial Salute - 5/31/12 - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Editorial Salute - 5/31/12

A holiday for many, Memorial Day was a regular work-day for the elite Army Guards who stand watch, 24/7, over Arlington Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns.  To gain selection, these devoted soldiers go through a rigorous process, committing to 2-years of Tomb guard-duty, and strict rules covering all aspects of their service life.  Guards change-out every 30-minutes, around the clock.  Walking singular-guard, they take exactly 21-steps across the prescribed-path in front of the Tomb and back, the number relating directly to the highest military honor, the 21-gun salute. 

Justifiably, the guard on-duty expects those in the visitor's area to observe proper decorum and reverence during the course of his protective walk.  Recently, on-lookers had become too noisy, clearly forgetting the meaning of where they were.  Finally, the guard stopped mid-walk, faced the on-lookers, and with quiet, but firm authority, reminded them of the respect required.  The crowd hushed, and the guard resumed his precise walk. 

The guards perform their duty around-the-clock, no matter what.  Back in 2003, as a hurricane headed for the D.C. area, Congress adjourned and the city hunkered-down. With safety an issue, the guards were given the option of standing-down.  They refused.  Amidst the pelting downpour and punishing winds, they continued their dedicated walk.  Just a few years ago, Washington faced a blizzard. Once again, the town shut down.  Deserted, that is, except for those dedicated guards, out in the bitter cold, in continual duty at the Tomb.  Memorial Day in America is a sacred one.  But every day, and duty, is sacred to those special Army soldiers at Arlington, totally-devoted to the memory and honored sacrifice of America's fallen heroes. 

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