Currently, the Washington, D.C. area is experiencing a heat wave, with the temperatures reaching the upper 90s and the heat index reaching 110 the day before the Fourth of July.
On social media, I saw countless people complain about how hot it was, to which I agreed and was thankful for the air conditioning in the office.
I thought about how this was much hotter than my training at Camp Pendleton, even though the temperatures were the same, but we didn’t have the added humidity in the desert.
Then I thought about how all the service members currently on active-duty doing whatever working party or training exercise outside that needed to be done.
What could be the easiest way to show the rest of America the dedication the military has to their assignments, even in the most uncomfortable circumstances?
That’s when I thought of the sentinels that are always guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery — no matter the outside conditions.
Even though it was 18:00 by the time the pictures were taken, it was still very hot, and the sentinel’s body showed it.
A single sweat drop collected right under his nose, but, ever the disciplined solider, he did not wipe it away and continued to guard the tomb in a professional manner.
Some people may initially think, “Well of course he’s there because that’s his job.” That is true, but the point it is it did not have to be.
For one, the sentinels, and every other service member, volunteer to enlist. Then soldiers who want to volunteer to become sentinels must go through a rigorous selection process:
Each soldier must be in superb physical condition, possess an unblemished military record and be between 5 feet, 10 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches tall for males or 5 feet, 8 inches and 6 feet, 2 inches tall for females with a proportionate weight and build. An interview and a two-week trial to determine a volunteer’s capability to train as a tomb guard is required.
The would-be sentinels must also memorize seven pages of Arlington National Cemetery history and must be able to recite the information verbatim in order to earn a “walk.” More tests are given in order to earn the Tomb Guard Identification Badge.
In short, this assignment is only for the truly dedicated and those who really want to be there.