Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Old Guard

It has been three months since I last blogged and frankly, I didn't think I would have time to blog until our busy season ends in another two weeks.
So what happened to give me time?

My friend Tom Itsell is what happened, or to be more specific, the information about the Old Guard that Tom Forwarded to me is what happened.

I'd heard of The Old Guard and even knew who they were: the U.S. Army unit charged with guarding Arlington National Cemetery.  But, as I quickly discovered, that's pretty meager knowledge, which I realized when I read Tom's email.  In a moment I'll share a few excerpts from the message and a couple of videos of The Old Guard.

When I decided to write the blog post about The Old Guard and what it takes to be one of them, I ran a few Google searches and knew I had to write it now, not two weeks from now when the busy season is over.  The photo above confirmed it - notice that everyone in the picture, except the guardsman, has an umbrella.  That, in a photo, is pretty much what The Old Guard is about.

Here are a few facts from Tom's email:

Before a member of the Army can apply for duty with The Old Guard, he must meet the physical requirements:  height 5'10" to 6'2" tall with a waist size not to exceed 30".

That's the easiest part.  Then comes the time commitment.  A tour with The Old Guard is a minimum of two years.  During that two year period the guardsmen live in a barracks under The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier where they train and prepare for their duties.

In addition, a member of The Old Guard swears to never drink alcohol or use profanity in public, not just for the their tour of duty, but for the rest of their lives.  The rest of their lives!

That kind of commitment is beyond most of our imaginations.  In fact, just a week without swearing or consuming alcohol would put most of us in the dust.

Commitment is what The Old Guard is about.  The kind of commitment I understand is at the heart of ancient esoteric orders.  That's what drew me to learn more about the Old Guard.  If you're interested, there is quite a bit of information here.

Here are two videos I found on YouTube.  The first is a 4 minute study of the life of a Tomb Guard:

And a short piece about a guard and his final walk:

I appreciate this information more than you can imagine.