A few weeks ago, I was hired to photograph a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. As the official photographer for this particular ceremony, which was quite moving, I was allowed special access to an angle that the general public visiting the cemetery does not get. The photos from this angle were distinctive, and my clients appreciated what turned out to be some fairly dramatic photos of the Sentinels who guard the tomb 24 hours a day, every day of the year. However, my favorite photo from the day was this one, which was taken from the general public viewing area: I was behind most of the people gathered there to witness the ceremony.
If you live in the area or are planning a visit to the nation’s capital make sure you come pay your respects at Arlington National Cemetery. Wikipedia has some interesting background and ceremonial information on the Tomb Guards, including this:
“It is considered one of the highest honors to serve as a Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknowns. Fewer than 20 percent of all volunteers are accepted for training and of those only a fraction pass training to become full-fledged Tomb Guards. This attrition rate has made the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Guard Identification Badge the second least-awarded decoration of the United States Military (the first being the Army Astronaut Badge).“
The soldier “walking the mat” does not wear rank insignia, so as not to outrank the Unknowns, whatever their ranks may have been.