Recently, I saw a clip of the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. What was fascinating was the impact it had on me that took me back to the years of 1969-1971.
As a young army wife of 18, so far away from where I had grown up, and leaving the dysfunctional life of family and in-laws, I was so focused on doing this one thing right. I wanted to be the best wife and mother that I could be. I did not know what this would entail, but I feel such pride for the men and women who serve this country, and so when I see something as fantastic and amazing as the changing of the guard at the Tomb of The Unknown Solider, I go back in time.
My husband had done three tours in Vietnam, wore the Big Red One, an Infantry solider who had been given a reward of such, to serve in the Presidential Honor Guard, The Tomb of The Unknown Soldier.
We lived in military housing and he was stationed at Fort Myers in Arlington Virginia; the earliest military establishment in the vicinity of For Myer were earthbound fortifications built in 1812 along the east bank of the Potomac.
I did not know much about the history of the dedication of the Tomb of the Unknowns but I knew that it would be good to do some research since my husband then would be doing something, few get to do. The Tomb of the Unknowns was dedicated at Arlington Cemetery just three years after the end of World War I.
It is considered the most hallowed grave, America’s most sacred military cemetery. It wasn’t until 1998, that a Vietnam War unknown was buried in the tomb for 14 years, only later to be identified through DNA. The amazing thing I learned is that Britain and France were the first to create this symbolic Tomb that it spread to other countries.
My husband would get up every morning at 4:40 a.m., as I would, I would make him breakfast, iron his fatigues, and sleepily send him out the door. Often, when I knew he was to be guarding the Tomb of the Unknown, I would go and watch, without him knowing, so that he would not be distracted. I could sit for hours watching the marvel of the tossing of the rifles in the air, the clipping sound of the taps on their shoes and the majesty of the movement without flaw. A sight to behold.
As I am now 66 and have seen the many times that a president, will lay a wreath at the Tomb of The Unknown and who salutes, I am taken back in time to those days that I too was so close, I could touch that Wreath. I’ve included a video of the changing of the guard below that I hope will give you a sense of awe, done in the midst of winter, where nothing prevents this symbolic tradition from taking place. Although years have passed the memories of those days will always remain within. Thank you to all members serving in our military for all you do and what you represent.
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