Guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Virginia Given Permission to Leave During Hurricane…and Stay Anyway–Truth!
Summary of eRumor:
During Hurricane Isabel in September, 2003, the guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns were given permission to leave, but they chose to remain even if it meant threat to their lives.
The story is true.
One version of the eRumor says that the guard were ordered to seek shelter but disobeyed to stand guard. That is not true. There was no order for them to abandon their posts.
Last updated 9/24/03
Arlington, Va. — For the first time ever, soldiers at Arlington National
Cemetery were given permission to leave their post at the Tomb of the
Unknowns if Hurricane Isabel became too dangerous.
“We made the decision we were going to stand where we were,” said Army Sgt.
1st Class Fredrick Geary, 37.
Around the clock each day for about two hours at a time, seven soldiers
turns manning the tomb where the first unknown soldier was buried in 1921.
But on Thursday night, during the height of the storm, Sgt. of the Guard
Geary took it upon himself to march for 5-1/2 hours before the tomb against
heavy rain and 60 mph wind gusts.
The wind was so strong that it felled at least 24 trees on cemetery
most more than 20 years old. In turn, three headstones were crushed. Crews
began working at 4 a.m. Friday to clean up the 612 acres scattered with
downed trees and limbs. The tombstones could be replaced within two weeks,
Looking at the tomb on Friday, Geary, who led the charge to stay, choked
“Did they volunteer? Did they get drafted? How did they die? They did their
job and this country paid them back by not remembering who they were. We
have a job to do here and at no time was a life in danger.
“It was my life. I was just doing what I believed to be right.”
Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc. <http://www.newsday.com