Tomb of the Unknown Soldier


This is the process a guard from the 3d Infantry Regiment follows while on duty at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery.

During a trip to Washington, D.C. with my son’s eighth grade class, I was awestruck as we watched a particular guard pace twenty-one steps, face the tomb, turn, click his heels, shift his rifle to the other shoulder, and repeat the process with exact precision. Since 1948, a guard has stood watch over the Tomb every hour of every day. Every hour. Of every day. As we watched the care the guards took in the Changing of the Guard ceremony and the Wreath-laying ceremony, a verse kept playing over and over in my mind.

Earlier in the day, this verse was shared during a talk at Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was shot. Referring to the sacrifice Lincoln made to preserve the Union, the speaker quoted 1 John 3:16–“We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.” Looking out over so many grave markers as well as the Tomb, I was overcome with gratefulness for the price these soldiers paid so that I can be free. We may not agree with each of our leaders or the decisions they make, but we do still live in the “land of the free.”

My thoughts didn’t stop there, though. What about all of those fighting to protect me now? What about the policemen who put their lives in danger every day in order to keep the peace? What about the firemen who place themselves in harm’s way in order to protect us?

So in this month when we focus on being thankful, I have determined to not take for granted those who willingly lay down their lives for others. They may not know me personally, but they sacrifice themselves for me nonetheless.

What a wonderful picture of what Christ has done for us! He gave up His very life so that we might be saved. He gave up His life so that we could have eternal life and abundant life here on earth. That’s real love. I am oh so grateful for His sacrifice in this month of Thanksgiving, as well as all year long.
Aren’t you?

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