“These guys want to be here, they work hard to stay here,” says Sergeant of the Guard, Sgt. 1st Class Tanner Welch. “The guys in Afghanistan they can’t stop because of snow. Guys in the mountains of Korea didn’t stop because it was snowing.”
Since 1937, the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, located in Arlington National Cemetery, have performed their duty for 24 hours a day, 365 days per year. They are members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as “The Old Guard.”
“When you are out there you know that no matter how miserable the weather makes you, the people on the ground, they all suffered way worse than we are experiencing in the 30 minutes or hour we are out there,” says Spc. John Arriaga, 23, of San Antonio, Texas.
Arriaga, who has served as a guard at the Tomb for over a year, says the job is a special one.
“Right when you cross the threshold of the chains — it’s like nothing else even matters,” Arriaga says. “It is just 21 steps, 21 seconds — you and the three unknowns. It’s a feeling I can’t even explain.”