Memorial Day and the Old Guard


(U.S. Army)

Memorial Day is a poignant and somber opportunity to honor those who died serving their country. To the Army’s 3rd Infantry – the Old Guard – the has even more signficance.

The first Unknown Soldier was exhumed from a battlefield cemetery in France, on Memorial Day in 1921, and later buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day.

Two Unknown Soldiers – from World War II and Korea – were buried in Arlington on Memorial Day in 1958.

At about the same time, Soldiers from the Old Guard – the unit responsible for guarding the tomb – began a tradition on the Thursday before Memorial Day of placing, “…small American flags at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones at Arlington National Cemetery. They then patrol 24 hours a day during the weekend to ensure that each flag remains standing.” (

In 1984, an Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam War was buried there too, also on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day and the Old Guard – inexorably linked in history.


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