By Chaplain (Capt.) Chris WallaceAugust 18, 2011
FORT LEE, Va. (Aug. 18, 2011) -- The Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery may be our most sacred national site. The marble sarcophagus was quarried in Colorado, fabricated in Vermont and final carvings were made in Virginia. The remains of Soldiers from World War I, World War II and the Korean War lie in rest there. The Soldier from the Vietnam War was identified and exhumed in 1998.
The Tomb Guard is a position of honor for which Soldiers may volunteer. The Old Guard has watched over the tomb non-stop for 24 hours a day since July 2, 1937. The sentinel does not wear rank so that he never outranks the unknown persons of the tomb. The sentinel walks 21 steps across the tomb, pauses for 21 seconds, salutes for 21 seconds and walks the 21 steps again. The number 21 is for the 21 gun salute, the highest military honor.
Arlington is within easy driving distance of Fort Lee, and the tomb is worth a visit while you are here. During your visit, you will observe the changing of the guard, and you will sense honor and tradition in a very powerful way. And while you think of the sacrifice, you will read a one-line inscription on the tomb about those who gave their life in service.
The tomb reads, "HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY AN AMERICAN SOLDIER KNOWN BUT TO GOD." God alone knows their names, and God alone knows their lives and sacrifices.
The truth applies to us all. There are times in life when God alone knows the pain, the hopelessness and the danger. There are times in life when God alone knows the energy and time devoted to family or to work. And it often seems that no one else cares. But God does care - always. He always watches over us, and he never sleeps. May you find hope. And may you live and love and work knowing God's presence.