the vigilance of a Sentinel
After months of combative campaigning, our attention will turn to our nation’s capitol this coming week, to see who will occupy our highest office. Before you focus too closely on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, let me direct your thoughts to some incredibly noteworthy servants 7 miles west of our President’s home.
The Sentinels, also known as the Tomb Guards, who guard The Tomb of The Unknown Solider are truly selfless servants. They give themselves to honor the memory of their fellow soldiers. They have guarded The Tomb 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, since 1937.
The soldiers drill on perfect unity as they stand guard, “walk the mat”, and exchange guards each day. Sentinels commit to an average of 18 months of service and work 9-day shifts, living beneath The Tomb in barracks, while on shift.
They take 21 steps each direction in front of the tombs, and it takes 21 seconds, to signify a 21-gun salute. Guards are changed out every 30 minutes during the summer, every hour during the winter, and every two hours when the cemetery is closed. Every day and every night to the honor of those who have given their lives for our freedom.
Their uniforms are perfect, polished and measured (yes, measured) to the same exact standard of every other Sentinel. Of course, as members of the Army, everything is polished.
Weather has no bearing on their duty. During extreme seasons of snow and rain, these Tomb Guards are always guarding The Tomb.
On September 18, 2003, with Hurricane Isabel about to hit the D. C. area, these guards were provided a contingency plan to pull back and watch the tombs from shelter. To a soldier, every Sentinel stood their post and would not abandon their duty, regardless of 100+ mph winds. In fact, 24 trees were ripped out of the ground that night at Arlington National Cemetery!
This commitment is way beyond being a hard worker, or a dedicated employee. These soldiers are passionate about their assignment to guard The Tomb with the proper respect fallen comrades deserve.
"Oh, praise The LORD, all you servants of The LORD, you who serve at night in the house of The LORD." - Psalm 134:1
As I read about priests who make the extra effort to serve The LORD by night, I consider my own level of commitment. How devoted am I to The One who gave His own life for me?
Will I go above and beyond for the sake of my King? Does it change the way I live or how I do my work? The Tomb Guards honor their fellow soldiers in their dress, how they walk, live, and the shifts they keep.
Have I set my mind, heart, head and feet to walk out the tasks my King has given me, regardless of the circumstances? When wild weather, trials and discomfort come my way, will I stick with my assignment?
I want to be faithful, like the servants who serve at night in the house of The LORD. Not only when it’s easy and the sun is shining, but when it requires something more. The Tomb Guards dedication inspires me to serve my King with their kind of vigilance.