walking the mat

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Recently, I flew to Washington D.C. to shoot an assignment for a client in Kansas City, Missouri. While I was there, I visited Arlington National Cemetery to watch the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns. I thought about these sentinels as our country celebrates Veterans Day.

* The tomb guards are soldiers in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, or The Old Guard.

* The Old Guard, which was first organized in 1784, is the oldest regiment in the army.

* It is considered one of the highest honors to guard the Tomb of the Unknowns.

* The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification Badge is the second least-awarded decoration in the U.S. military. The Astronaut Badge is the first least-awarded decoration.

* Guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns is known as “walking the mat.”

* Guards wear sunglasses because of the bright reflection from the surrounding white marble.

* The Tomb of the Unknowns has been guarded continuously, 24 hours a day, since 1937.

* Guards carry M14 rifles, which are unloaded and affixed to ceremonial rifle stocks.

* A guard marches 21 steps across the mat symbolizing a 21-gun salute.

* The mat is replaced before every Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

We should remember to celebrate our military heroes every day, especially on Veterans Day.

-scott weaver

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