Once we know what the tomb signifies we can understand it better. It is a national monument in many countries and is a commemoration to the deaths of the many unknown and unidentified soldiers who died in wars over the years.
The tomb is a grave of sorts that goes out as a reminder of the deaths of the many soldiers in battles who are either unidentified, or whose bodies have yet not been found. As the name suggests, it is all about remembering the unidentifiable soldiers who have died for the sake of the nation.
A Brief History
The idea about such a tomb was first introduced during World War I. It was the year 1916, and it was Reverend David Railton who brought up this idea. Railton was serving as a chaplain in the British army on the Western front, and one day he came across a grave, with the message 'An unknown British soldier' written across it with a pencil. This inspired him to suggest the idea that such a grave should become a national monument of sorts, and should pay homage to the thousands of soldiers dying without being identified.
The idea became very popular back in Britain and pretty soon, it became a national rage. At the same time, France was also adopting a similar idea. It was on Armistice Day (November 11), 1920 that Britain and France unveiled their respective tombs. The idea rapidly spread to other countries as well, and pretty soon, many countries had erected their own. The tombs usually contain the remains of one unidentified soldier, and act as a medium to commemorate all the others who have lost their lives. The structure implies the sacrifice of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who put their lives on the line to defend the country's interests.
Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
- The guard is supposed to take exactly 21 steps in his walk around the tomb. The reason for this is an allusion to the 21 gun salute, which happens to be the highest honor that can be bestowed on a military or foreign person.
- When he has to turn around and start his return walk he must pause for 21 seconds. The reason for this is the same as the first.
- His gloves must be wet, and this is done, in order to prevent his gun from falling down from his gloved hands.
- The guards are changed every half an hour, for 24 hours a day, for each and every day of the year.
- The guard walking the tomb must always carry the rifle on his outside shoulder, or the shoulder facing the other side of the tomb.
- The guards have to commit 2 years of their lives to guarding the tomb.
- They have to live in a barracks directly under the tomb.
- Their height must be between 5 feet 10 inches and 6 feet 2 inches. Their waist size must not be more than 30 inches.
- They cannot drink alcohol, swear in public, or disgrace the uniform in any way for the rest of their lives.
- For the first 6 months the guard cannot talk to anyone, or watch TV.
- Once the 2 years of service are up, they are given a wreath pin that signifies their duty.
We must remember that this tomb is of national importance to all the countries that it is erected in, and people must respect this tomb at all costs. The price of freedom is paid in the form of lives of soldiers and in the case of soldiers, dead and unknown, these tombs are the only way to recognize their sacrifice and that's why it has such great national importance.