WeatherWeather Wise


Weather Wise: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Weather Wise: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Posted at 5:25 PM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-30 19:25:03-04

Memorial Day honors those who have died in military service for the United States. The guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier hold their vigil through every kind of weather.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, through a variety of weather in our nation's capital. In the summer, temperatures regularly reach the mid 90's and the heat index can soar over 100 degrees. There are no summer uniforms, wool pants and jackets are still worn, as are black dress shoes that get so hot the polish can melt. Staying hydrated in the heat is their only relief. A change of guard occurs every half hour.

Storms such as Hurricane Sandy have not deterred the sentinel from standing duty. In conditions like this, they are allowed to stand in a small enclosure known as "the box" for up to two hours before resuming their march. However, in severe thunderstorm events with life-threatening weather like lightning and tornadoes, there are contingency plans that are ready to be executed.

In the winter months, Nor'easters and blizzards can cripple the city but not the tomb guards. They simply put on winter coats, gloves and hats to continue their duty. If the path needs to be shoveled, they do that too. There is a change of guard every hour in winter.

Whatever the weather, whatever the time of year, the focus is not on the conditions, but always remains on those soldiers who sacrificed their lives.