Monday, June 21, 2010

Washington D.C. Day 8

Today I visited Arlington National Cemetery. By far the most moving experience I've had in D.C.

1) Seeing the size of the cemetery was overwhelming and considering the number of American patriots, famous by name or not, buried there brings tears to my eyes.

2) The Tomb of the Unknown: I arrived at the monument at 10 a.m. when it was the changing of the guard. Wow. I had no idea that this ritual was *so* precise and formal. I had to learn more when I got home. I discovered that The Old Guard or the 3rd U.S. Army Infantry Regiment guards the monument 24 hours per day, 365 days per year.

From the Army website: "While on duty the sentinel crosses a 63-foot rubber surfaced walkway in exactly 21 steps. He then faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, turns again, and pauses an additional 21 seconds before retracing his steps. The 21 is symbolic of the highest salute according to dignitaries in military and state ceremonies.
"As a gesture against intrusion on their post, the sentinel always bears his weapon away from the Tomb."

3) I also witnessed from a distance the interment of a U.S. Army service person (obviously, not sure if it was a man or a woman). It was also moving to witness the ritual involved here. And when I heard Taps playing, I lost it.

4) The different monuments and memorials:

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