Having a life-changing commitment to anything is practically unheard of in today’s world. Our society has generally discarded God. The majority of our citizens believe in “looking after #1” and “survival of the fittest.” Thankfully, there are a few notable exceptions.
We recently observed a 4th of July celebration that reminded us of the commitment that some have made to allow citizens of the United States to live in freedom. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., is an example of a remarkable exception. In 1921 an unidentified soldier was killed in France during World War 1. A special tomb was set up to honor the unknown and all of the others who gave their lives.
Over the years, unknown soldiers from World War 2, the Korean War, and the Viet Nam Conflict have also been interred there. Because of the patriotism and commitment of many Americans, in 1930 the government established a guard which functions 24/7/365. All members of the guard are a part of the 3rd U.S. Infantry. They must be between 5’ 10” to 6’ 2” tall with waistlines not to exceed 30 inches. They serve a two-year tour of duty, living in barracks under the tomb. They are committed to drinking no alcohol – on or off duty – for the rest of their lives. For the first six months of duty, they are to speak to no one nor watch television. They spend their off-duty hours studying the lives of those buried in the cemetery and memorizing the names of 300 of them and where they are buried.
A soldier takes precisely 21 steps as he walks in front of the monument. He then pauses for 21 seconds before walking in the other direction. That number is related to the 21 gun solute often given to special dignitaries. Guards are changed every 30 minutes. After finishing their two years, each soldier receives a wreath pin to wear on his lapel. He must forfeit the pin if he ever breaks the life-changing commitment to which he originally agreed.
Countless American soldiers have given their lives in defense of our country through the years. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is one way for us to express the appreciation of a grateful people.
The above description comes from Words of Inspiration and Encouragement by Marion Owens (ISBN 9781790619429). It shows the life-changing commitment that many have made to honor those who gave their lives to allow this country to exist and stay free. It also takes a life-changing commitment for Christians to maintain their faith and continue to obey God in a hostile world. Let us pray that God will bless us as we live out the commitment to be “the light of the world.”
— John N. Clayton © 2019