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Watch continues uninterrupted at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Army soldiers from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as “The Old Guard,” have kept watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier around the clock for more than 70 years. Even though Arlington National Cemetery, where the tomb is located, has been closed to visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic, this poignant ritual still endures. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    We end this Memorial Day with soldiers from the Army's 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, who have kept watch over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery around the clock for more than 70 years.

    Now a look at how that tradition endures even through a pandemic.

    This March, Arlington National Cemetery closed to most visitors, as COVID-19 hit the nation's capital. But at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the cemetery's most iconic memorial, the watch never stopped.

  • Soldier:

    If it's thunderstorms, if it's raining, if it's a hurricane, if it's the coronavirus, we're always here. We're always guarding.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Sentinels from the United States Army have guarded this tomb 24 hours a day since 1948.

  • Soldier:

    It's a very unique time for us to be in Arlington, because there's no one in here. I think that's honestly when we feel closest to what we do. When we feel closest to the unknowns is when no one's here.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Tomb guards now wear masks in their quarters as they prepare for their watch.

    The changing of the guard ceremony has also been adjusted to allow for more distancing between personnel. While the pandemic has disrupted traditions for many across the country, the Old Guard see the importance of fulfilling this duty.

  • Soldier:

    I think it's important for us to show to this country that we haven't forgotten, that we will never forget the sacrifices that these soldiers make.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And it says everything about what we value as Americans.

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