Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Ready for Anything

Steve, The Burnt Food Dude, posted this on Monday.
At the bottom of his post, he said, "I’d be honored if you’d copy and paste this in your blog. Even if it was just for 1 hour."

On Jeopardy the other night, the final question was “How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns?” All three contestants missed it!
This is really an awesome sight to watch if you’ve never had the chance. Fascinating.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Q & A
Q. How many steps does the guard take during his walk across the tomb of the Unknowns and why?
A. 21 steps: It alludes to the twenty-one gun salute which is the highest honor given any military or foreign dignitary.
Q. How long does he hesitate after his about face to begin his return walk and why?
A. 21 seconds for the same reason as answer as the first question.
Q. Why are his gloves wet?
A. His gloves are moistened to prevent his losing his grip on the rifle.
Q. Does he carry his rifle on the same shoulder all the time and, if not, why not?
A. He carries the rifle on the shoulder away from the tomb. After his march across the path,he executes an about face and moves the rifle to the outside shoulder.
Q. How often are the guards changed?
A. Guards are changed every thirty minutes, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.
Q. What are the physical traits of the guard limited to?
A. For a person to apply for guard duty at the tomb, he must be between 5′ 10′ and 6′ 2′ tall and his waist size cannot exceed 30.
They must commit 2 years of life to guard the tomb, live in a barracks under the tomb, and cannot drink any alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives. They cannot swear in public for the rest of their lives and cannot disgrace the uniform or the tomb in any way.
After two years, the guard is given a wreath pin that is worn on their lapel signifying they served as guard of the tomb. There are only 400 presently worn. The guard must obey these rules for the rest of their lives or give up the wreath pin.
The shoes are specially made with very thick soles to keep the heat and cold from their feet. There are metal heel plates that extend to the top of the shoe in order to make the loud click as they come to a halt.
There are no wrinkles, folds or lint on the uniform. Guards dress for duty in front of a full-length mirror.
The first six months of duty a guard cannot talk to anyone nor watch TV. All off duty time is spent studying the 175 notable people laid to rest in Arlington National cemetery. A guard must memorize who they are and where they are interred. Among the notables are: President Taft, Joe Lewis {the boxer}, Medal of Honor winner Audie L. Murphy, the most decorated soldier of WWII and of Hollywood fame. Every guard spends five hours a day getting his uniforms ready for guard duty..
In 2003 as Hurricane Isabelle was approaching Washington, DC, our US Senate/House took 2 days off with anticipation of the storm. On the ABC evening news, it was reported that because of the dangers from the hurricane, the military members assigned the duty of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier were given permission to suspend the assignment. They respectfully declined the offer, “No way, Sir!” Soaked to the skin, marching in the pelting rain of a tropical storm, they said that guarding the Tomb was not just an assignment, it was the highest honor that can be afforded to a service person. The tomb has been patrolled continuously, 24/7, since 1930.
God Bless and keep them.
We can be very proud of our young men and women in the service no matter where they serve.
The above is what Steve posted.  Now, for a story about one of these soldiers that was hard to believe at the time.  A search for the original article has me coming up on a page that will not load over and over, so i'm piecing it together from what i remember and what i can still find online.
Back in 2008, when LSU was scheduled to play Ohio State for the football national championship, Army Specialist Benton Thames was in training to be one of the soldiers who guards the Tomb.  Training is very rigorous, and the die-hard LSU grad and fan wasn't going to be able to see the game, because he was within his first 6 months of duty, when TV is still off limits.
One of his commanders, however, claims he overheard Thames shout with glee when LSU won the coin toss.  When in that first six months of training, they not only aren't supposed to watch TV, they aren't allowed to even acknowledge its existence, ignoring completely anything they hear.  He claims he didn't yell, the commander said he did, and it ended with Thames being offered the opportunity to watch the game under one condition.
Part of their training is that soldiers have to hold their M-14 rifles, which weigh 9.5 pounds, in the "Ready One" position.  It is grueling to do that.  You put the butt end of the rifle in the palm of the hand, grip it with your fingers so the rifle, complete with bayonet, sticks up at a perfect 90-degree angle.  Then you hold it, and hold it, and hold it some more.
At the start of this LSU vs. Ohio State game, Thames personal best time for holding "Ready One" was about 20 minutes, and the most time anyone could remember was 30 minutes.
He was told he could watch the game, and even show emotion, if he held a perfect "Ready One" through it all.  He decided it was worth trying.
He held it through the entire almost two hours that it took to play the first half of the game.  The relief commander let him put the rifle down during halftime.  Then it was back to it.
He was in full dress uniform at the time, which is uncomfortable at best and agonizing enough after a shift that no one keeps it on once their shift is over.  He held "Ready One" until just before the end of the third quarter, for a total of almost 3 hours.
The relief commander was so impressed with his determination to do whatever he had to do to watch his beloved Tigers that they let him sit and watch the fourth quarter.  He got to see them win the game.
An addendum -- a few weeks later, the LSU team was invited to the White House to meet with the President.  Thames wasn't going to be able to go over there, and he was disappointed.  Until the team came for a tour of Arlington and the Tomb, and he was given the shift as their tour guide.

Today is:

Biezputras Diena (Porridge Day) -- Ancient Latvian Calendar (date unconfirmed, some sites suggest it's always on a Sunday before Feb. 23 instead)

Create-A-Vacuum Day -- an internet generated celebration of the nothingness of vacuums

Festival sur le Niger -- Segou, Mali (Festival on the Niger, an annual heritage celebration, with a special combination festival with the Festival au Desert on the 6th; through the 9th)

General Thaddeus Kosciuszko Day -- Poland (birth anniversary)

Homemade Soup Day

Independence Day -- Sri Lanka

King Frost Day -- London (Celebrated yearly until WWI, in remembrance of the frozen River Thames on this day in 1814.)

Liberation Day -- Angola

National Stuffed Mushroom Day

Quacker Day -- for those who love Quacker Factory clothes

Spoiled Cats' Day -- internet generated, and isn't this every day?

St. Andrew Corsini's Day (Patron of Carmelites; against civil disorder and riots)

St. John de Brito's Day (Patron of Portugal; Sivagangai, India)

Thank A Mailperson/Postal Worker Day -- because someone decided it would be a good day to do that, and put it on the internet

USO Day -- US (founded this date in 1941)

Vasant Panchami / Saraswati Puja  -- Hindu (celebrating Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge)

World Cancer Day -- Internationalworldcancerday.org

Anniversaries Today:

United Service Organizations (USO) founded, 1941
The University of Wisconsin is established, with one classroom and 20 students, 1849

Birthdays Today:

Natalie Imbruglia, 1975
Oscar De La Hoya, 1973
Gabrielle Anwar, 1971
Michael Goorjian, 1971
Rod corddry, 1971
Clint Black, 1962
Lawrence Taylor, 1959
Lisa Eichhorn, 1952
Alice Cooper, 1948
Dan Quayle, 1947
George A. Romero, 1940
Jhn Schuck, 1940
David Brenner, 1936
Gary Conway, 1936
Betty Friedan, 1921
Ida Lupino, 1918
Rosa Parks, 1913
Clyde W. Tombaugh, 1906
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906
Charles Lindbergh, 1902
Tadeusz Kosciuszko, 1746

Debuting/Premiering Today:

Fleetwood Mac's "Rumours"(Album), 1977

Today in History:

The Roman Emperor Septimius Severus dies, leaving the Roman Empire in the hands of his two quarrelsome sons, Caracalla and Geta, 211
The coronation of Zhao Kuangyin as Emperor Taizu of Song, initiating the Song Dynasty period of China that would last more than three centuries, 960
Maximilian I assumes the title Holy Roman Emperor without being crowned, 1508
Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler meet for the first time near Prague 1600
In Edo (now Tokyo), The 47 Ronin commit seppuku (ritual suicide) after avenging the death of their master, 1703
The worst earthquake in 8 years in Calabria, Italy, leaves 50,000 dead, 1783
The first Anglican bishops of New York and Pennsylvania are consecrated in London, 1787
George Washington is unanimously elected as the first President of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College, 1789
The French National Convention proclaims the abolishment of slavery, 1794
An earthquake in Quito, Ecuador, kills 41,000, 1797
J.W. Goodrich introduces his rubber galoshes to the public, 1824
The Mormons of Nauvoo, Missouri, leave to go west, eventually settling in Utah, 1846
The Codex Sinaiticus is found at the Greek Monastery of Mount Sinai, 1859
The first rolling lift bridge opens, in Chicago, 1895
The first Winter Olympics games close at Chamonix, France, 1924
The first tieless, soundless, shockless streetcar tracks open, in New Orleans, 1930
Radium E is the first radioactive substance to be produced synthetically, 1936
The United Service Organization (USO) is created to entertain American troops, 1941
Lunar Orbiter 3 lifts off from Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 13 on its mission to identify possible landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo spacecraft, 1967
After at first contesting the results, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic recognizes opposition victories in the November 1996 elections, 1997
Facebook, a mainstream online social network is founded by Mark Zuckerberg, 2004
The Federal Court of Australia's ruling in Roadshow Films v iiNet sets a precedent that Internet service providers (ISPs) are not responsible for what their users do with the services the ISPs provide them, 2010
The remains found the previous year in a dig at Leicester are confirmed to be those of King Richard III of England, 2013


  1. bless them for the solemn honor they give to all service men and women. thank you for sharing the information and video. i watched it all.

  2. Fascinating! I didn't know any of this!

  3. It was a blazing hot day in July when I visited this spot. It was well over a hundred degrees and I had trouble sitting there, and was amazed these fellows could perform their duties with gloves and a heavy uniform. Interesting to think that due to DNA testing we will never have any more unknown soldiers.

  4. I read Steve's post and it was awesome, but your addition made me smile even more. Loved it.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  5. That's an amazing story about young Thames. And an amazingly determined young man!
    As for create-a-vacuum....... haha! You do find some funny things, and there's always something entertaining in your list!

  6. I have not see the changing of the guard since I was a child. I was thinking about taking my older son a few years ago, but it did not happen. Thanks for the reminder of things I should be doing sooner rather than later.