As the rest of the Federal Government gets the day off due to hurricane conditions around Washington, D.C., there is one group of workers who you can count on showing up and performing their jobs perfectly — and outdoors, no less. That group is the elite guard at the Tomb of the Unknown soldier in Arlington cemetery.
But a picture circulating around the internet today purporting to show that elite guard watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are not what they appear.* First, here’s the photo being widely circulated:
It appears the photo started to spread after it was posted on Facebook by the First Army Division East. It was shared more than 53,000 times and liked more than 43,000 times.
Still, it got us thinking — are the solders there during today’s hurricane? A quick call to the Arlington Cemetery home office confirmed the answer is “yes.” The receptionist told us that “The tomb has been guarded continuously since 1937” and a guard only takes shelter if “sever condition threaten their well-being.” The “shelter” is a small stand beside the tomb, where the soldiers still considered on guard.
The guards at the tomb are no stranger to tangling with hurricanes. As Business Insider notes:
This is not the first time guards have experienced a hurricane. In 2003, for the first time in American history, the sentinels, as the post marchers are called, were given the choice to seek shelter away from Hurricane Isabel. They did not. The choice was given them again in 2011, when Irene stormed ashore. And again, they did not leave their post.
But while the viral photo is from September, we were able to get one we believe is from today. It is of Spc. Brett Hyde, a Tomb Sentinel who maintains his vigil during Hurricane Sandy.
The Facebook page of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) explains:
Spc. Brett Hyde, Tomb Sentinel, 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), maintains his vigil during Hurricane Sandy while guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, Va., Oct., 29, 2012. In 1948 the Old Guard assumed the post following the unit’s reactivation in the nation’s capital. (U.S. Army Photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Jr.) Digital
NPR posted another picture of the soldier:
And that got us thinking ever more. What else do the soldiers guard during?
They also guard in this
And in this
And on Christmas day
*This story has been updated to reflect that the picture is from September.