In April of 1948, the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment took on the unique responsibility of guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Being a Tomb Sentinel isn't as simple as walking back and forth while keeping a close eye out; it's an extremely high honor that requires immense professionalism and commitment.
Each year, Arlington National Cemetery receives around four million visitors who come from across the globe to pay their respects to heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. At the The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, visitors watch solemn, powerful ceremonies that take place to honor the dead. If you plan on visiting this historic site, you'll want to carefully read over the rules and regulations before stepping foot on those hallowed grounds. It is the job of Tomb Sentinels to protect this sacred place from all four million of those visitors — you don't want to screw up and get yelled at like this unlucky visitor.
The Sentinel Guardsman never leaves their post at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.(Photo by U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi)
During a wreath-placing ceremony, a crowd gathers and two children are selected to lay the elegant decoration at the center of the tomb for all to see. The chosen children are assisted by a Sentinel in order to ensure the wreath is properly placed as the other soldiers render a perfect hand salute.
Once the wreath is laid, the Sentinels move to their assigned area as the Taps is played, showing ultimate respect.
The participants of the wreath laying ceremony.(Tim Stampfly)
After the hymn ends, the participants march away with extreme military bearing. This time around, however, something interesting happened.
On the other side of the crowd, a woman wearing all white decided it was a good idea to walk up and slip past the barrier that keeps spectators from making physical contact with the tomb. As she made her way closer, the guard did precisely what he's supposed to do — man his post.
This wasn't the smartest idea ever(Tim Stampfly)
"It is requested, that all visitors stay behind the chain rails at all times!" the guard sternly instructs.
Without thinking twice, the woman in white quickly squeezed her way back through the barrier and pretended like it never happened. Once she was secured in the designed visitors' area, the ceremony resumed.
Check out the video below to watch a Tomb Sentinel protect the sacred ground from a curious trespasser.