Earlier this month as the DC area dropped into record low temperatures, the permanent honor guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier remained on post.
Mounted by a select and dedicated platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) which dates back to 1784, the Tomb Guards have maintained their post unbroken for 48 years despite all extremes of weather, holidays and events.
“Walking the mat” at the Tomb is steeped in ceremony from the silent procession to the 21 step march and 21 seconds between turns observed by the sentinel. Out of respect for the Unknown, the guard wears no insignia of rank, lest they outrank the fallen interred.
Duty at the Tomb is such a high honor that the qualification badge for the Tomb Guards is the second-least awarded badge in the U.S. military, with the first being the Astronaut Badge.