The tomb guards change every hour on the hour and each time they do, a very specific ceremony is performed involving a weapons inspection, a salute to the Unknowns, and official giving/receiving orders. The new guard then paces 21 steps in front of the tomb, faces east for 21 seconds, then turns and paces 21 steps across to the other side of the tomb. The most powerful part to me was that every time the guard turns to begin his 21 paces, he switches his weapon to the shoulder closest to visitors to show that any possible threat has to first get past the guard. He does this non-stop for a full hour, until the next changing of the guard. I was mesmerized by this ritual and how perfect & precise the guards were.
As we were about to leave, they announced that a Wreath Laying was about to take place and it just so happened to be by the Italian ambassador. Of course, we stayed to watch. It was Election Day - we were feeling especially patriotic. Plus, when will I ever be that close to an ambassador again? Probably never. That's when.
We then went to check out the Kennedys graves. I noticed Bobby & Ted's graves had lots of pennies on them. Apparently, the belief is that if you leave a coin and make a wish, the deceased person will work their magic up in Heaven to make things happen. Since it was Election Day, I left a quarter for Ted. One cent just didn't seem like it'd buy enough wishes.
As we left the cemetery, we realized we could just walk over to the National Mall. So we headed across the Potomac River to see the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial. I loved how this was done. The Lincoln Memorial is still my fave but this one was a very close second.
The Jefferson Memorial, from MLK's view
To be continued...