Urbin Report

Monday, September 29, 2003

It was never an option

From the Washington Times

You might have read about "The Old Guard" hurricane vigil.
Now, "valiant" members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment are being saluted for their recent act of "patriotism" on Capitol Hill.
"As Hurricane Isabel's winds swept over Arlington National Cemetery, the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns were given — for the first time in history — permission to abandon their posts and seek shelter," observes House Armed Services Committee Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican.
"But that wasn't what was going to happen, and Sgt. Christopher Holmes knew it."
To provide some background, the Army sergeant's guards take turns patrolling the cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns in hourly shifts — never leaving their post.
The tomb was established in 1921 with the interment of an unknown World War I soldier, and a sentry has been posted there continuously, around the clock, since 1930.
"Cemetery superintendent John Metzler didn't want to put the guards in jeopardy unnecessarily with the fierce storm bearing down Thursday night," Mr. Miller notes, "so cemetery officials decided to let the guards move indoors if they felt they were in danger.
"That's never an option for us," Sgt. Holmes was quoted as saying. "It went in one ear and right out the other."