Here rests in honored glory an American soldier known but to God.

As someone who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, I was an airman in the U.S. Air Force, I want to meditate this week on one of the most sacred ritual of the military on this Memorial Day. The guarding of the Tomb of the Unknowns at the Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington D.C.  This video from PBS captures the beautiful ceremony in all its splendid movements of this unique and elaborate ritual known as the “Changing of the Guard”..

Sentinels pace back and forth in front of the Tomb, taking 21 steps north and south, and standing for periods of 21 seconds at either side — 21 symbolizing the military’s “highest honor” of the 21-gun salute. While on duty, the soldiers do not wear rank insignia, as to not outrank the Unknowns. The guards are relieved at the top of every hour, except during visitor hours in the summer months, when the guard is changed on the half hour.