tv World War I the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier CSPAN July 7, 2018 4:55pm-6:01pm EDT
see down the road? when you let the genie out of the bottle of mixing guns and religion, it is usually problematic. announcer 2: sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q and a . sergeant gavinmy mcilvenna talks about the tomb of the unknown soldier in arlington national cemetery following world war i. a former guard of the tomb and founder and president of the society the under guard, he describes the changing of the guard ceremony and reflects on the meaning of the monument. the national world war i museum and memorial hosted the hour-long event. >> now it is my pleasure to introduce sergeant major retired gavin mcilvenna, the 11th president of the tomb of the unknown soldier society. retired after nearly 23 years of
service, where he held key leadership positions, led peace and contingency operations and earned several decorations that, walkwalked -- watched him through the fall on a busy memorial day, you can pick him out of a crowd as a member of the military just for his posture alone. 1999, sergeant retired severala was one of guards who created the nonprofit organization society of the honor guard, tomb of the unknown soldier where he served as the first secretary. after retiring in 2012, he served as a state trooper in oregon where he was a medic team leader for special operations amongst other positions. currently he is still serving in the army reserves and is a life member of the vfw, which we are
pleased to be the home of here in kc. ladies and gentlemen, please help me in welcoming sergeant major retired gavin mcilvenna. [applause] gavin: well, thank you, lora, for that introduction. wherever camille is, thank you for the work in getting me ready for this and rob for introducing me to the national world war i museum and memorial. i am a retired sergeant major. during a portion of my time, i had the distinct honor to guard the tomb of the unknown soldier as commander of the relief for first release as well as assistant sergeant of the guard, probably the midpoint of my career. as lora had mentioned, in 1999i became one of the first board
members to create the society of the honor guard tomb of the unknown soldier. we are all volunteer made up of current and former tomb guards and like-minded americans. as a nonprofit our primary goals are to come out and educate people about the unknown soldiers buried in arlington national cemetery, the process each of them went through, and -- sentinelthat that stand the internal watch. i was going to introduce slides about world war i, but after coming through the museum on memorial day, i decided i would pull those because i would like to be invited back. [laughter] not been you have through, this is a beautiful facility. they have great displays. you can certainly learn an awful lot about why the war started and why we became involved in it . what i would like to talk to you today is the tomb of the unknown soldier. i will take you through the process of each of the unknown
soldiers and a little bit about the sentinels. the picture you see here is one of my favorites. this is one of the earlier photos we have had. this was 1929. this is what the tomb of the unknown soldier originally looked like. keeping in mind we are talking about the 1920's, and most of us back then probably didn't own a car. getting on a train was a challenge. traveling out of the country and going overseas. you can imagine the families, how they felt when they put their loved one on that train in uniform to go off to a foreign war and then never returned. where do they go to remember them? they don't have a grave. they might have one overseas, but we are talking about the early 1920's, where travel overseas was very difficult.
i can imagine the anguish and heartache of each of those family members, not being able to, on a day like memorial day, visit them and say whatever they need. the tomb of the unknown soldier is that plays in america -- that place in america where regardless of the conflict and the demographic, you can pay your respect to all the soldiers who have fallen in defense of this nation and all the soldiers that unfortunately will fall in its continued defense. let's talk about the tomb for a little bit. the unknown soldier idea actually started with great britain and france in 1920. after the war, both nations wanted to find a way to honor the sacrifice of so many soldiers during the conflict. now, how many of you have been to westminster abbey? a few, ok.
that is where the unknown soldier from great britain lays. the interesting thing about westminster abbey is that as you walk through, you may look down and find yourself standing on the grave of a king. but not the unknown soldier. that is the one grave you can't walk across in westminster abbey. anyone know where the french unknown soldier happens to be buried? the arc de triomphe in france, yes. same kind of idea. gold star mothers and veterans came to a gentleman by the name of congressman hamilton fish and said, why have we not done this? we are americans, we need to do this kind of a thing. we sent to so many of our sons overseas and so many did not return, we need to find a way to do something similar. covers many fish was a captain during world war i. he fought with the famed harlem hell fighters, who as you go through the museum, you will find their history is very high.
the french love them -- loved them. they were warriors and had the reputation of being vicious fighters. he was moved by the sentiment of asking for something similar to be done in the united states and he agreed. he felt that was the right thing to do. he introduced a bill and to congress and said, we need to do something similar. we want to find an unknown american soldier who served in the american expeditionary forces and bring them home and bury them in our on land. he brought people like general pershing to the hearings and pled their case to congress, and congress agreed. in march of 1921, president wilson signed into law a congressional orders saying that that is what needs to happen, that we will bring home an unidentified american who served in the american expeditionary forces and died in battle and place him in the tomb of the unknown soldier.
the original idea was to make that happen around may of 1921, memorial day. for finding them the unknown soldier from all of the different graves in france fell to the united states army's quartermaster corps. in those days, where he soldier fell is most likely where they were buried. the revolutionary war all the way through this timeframe. those soldiers were in makeshift graves, makeshift cemeteries. at some point, they were shifted to larger american cemeteries. there isn imagine probably not a lot of paperwork trail on where they first relayed to where they were when the selection process happened. we also don't have the great technology of dna. these guys are not running around with nametags or dogtags, they don't have dna in the system like they do now for the soldiers. so if they had laid in their grave for six months to a year,
who knows how easily we could have identified them? the mandate of the quartermaster corps was to find the soldiers who had passed, make sure they had died of combat wounds, that they were american, and that there was no way to identify them. they originally decided to get eight different candidates. they went to each of the four primary cemeteries where americans were buried in france. out of that, they came down to a of four. they transported those four from each of their individual to aeries under escort that was the seed for the city, where the mayor lives. when they did that and brought them into one room, all in identical conference with identical flags on them, and they promptly shifted all of the
caskets. all of the documents saying this soldier came from the cemetery and this one came from the cemetery were collected and destroyed, so there was no way to know that the one in the right-hand corner of the room came from the cemetery. a guard was put on what we call a deathwatch. so now we have our unknown soldier that constantly has a vigil standing over them to make sure they are safe. somewhere in the night when the guard change happened, the coffins were shifted again, to ensure that nobody knew anywhere that they came from. , it was going to be an officer that has served during the war that was going to make the final selection. of that officer said, i don't want to do that. i think the person who needs to do this is somebody who fought in the trenches next to him. he felt that sergeant edward f younger, also buried in arlington national cemetery, was the perfect person for this. truly he was.
he fought in every one of the major campaigns. he was wounded by artillery fire, wounded by machine gun fire. he helped bury the dead in each one of the cemeteries where the bodies came from, so he had personal ties to every single one of them. but this was a pretty big task. how would you like to show up to work and they say, this is what you are going to do for the nation? a little bit of pressure. i want to read a quote that starting younger talked about -- that sergeant younger talked about when he looked at having to do this. i was left alone in the chapel. there were four coffins, all unnamed, unmarked. i walked around the coffins three times and then suddenly i stopped. what caused me to stop, i do not know. it was as though something had to place- had pulled the roses on the coffin in front of me.
i can still remember the on feeling i had odd standing in front of the coffins of the unknown soldiers. the third coffin from the left is the one he chose to represent all the missing and unnamed soldiers. the other three caskets were returned to the grave, the cemeteries in france, and were buried under a simple headstone that said unknown american soldier. the body was placed into a brand-new casket, brand-new flat. the guard was still there. the room was open so the french people could comment pay their respects to this unknown american. ever since the revolution, the united states and france have kind of always been there, in one way or another. either we are supporting them or they are supporting us. this is the first time american soldiers have gone to france and helped defend their nation and helped liberate them. so they truly felt that power and a bond with that soldier,
and it was an outpouring of respect that was shown. the unknown soldier, the very 1921, wasn october of then given appropriate military ceremonies. he was put on a train and headed to the port, where he was going to embark on the uss olympia for his final voyage home. the french are very good at ceremonies. they have been doing it for a lot longer than we have, and they did it right that day as well. just before the unknown soldier was taken aboard the uss olympia, they presented him with their nation's highest award for valor, the least they felt they could do for someone who had given up their life and identity to defend their nation. was the unknown soldier placed aboard the uss olympia --
again, placed under military guard by the united states marine corps and navy -- and began that long voyage home from october and early november. once arriving in november, he went into the potomac. you can imagine back in the day, having one of these large battleships cruisers the potomac. it must have been quite a sight to see, especially when it is one of the great white fleet, so it is painted white. it probably stood out. once they arrived at navy yard in washington, d.c., they stopped at pier number three and begin the process of removing the soldier from the libya. they played -- from the olympia. they played the funeral march as he was carried off the ship. you know how powerful that music is. as soon as the body there is touched the pier, the national anthem began to play and our soldier was home. to the from the pier united states capital under the appropriate ceremonies and laid in state.
-- inot earn a member cannot remember the name or how to pronounce it, but does anybody know what this is called? a bier. there is a more appropriate name .or it but this is the exact same platform that president lincoln laid upon when he laid at state. it is the same platform that garfield and john f. kennedy and each of the unknowns lay upon. we will talk about them more when we get into the double internment of world war ii and the korean war of the unknown soldier. this is the opportunity for americans to pay their respects, and thousands did, filing in. think about the veterans that did that that don't know who is in the casket. there buddy that did not come home from work. world war i was a terrific war, and advances in technology made
it difficult to wear identifying bodies was difficult. all the families that could not be there, at least they knew that people were paying respects. the coffin stayed for a couple of days, and on november 11 began the final transition. coming out of the capital, he made the transition onto a horse drawn carriage and carried in darlington. one of the interesting things about the ceremony at the time was -- everybody here has a cell phone, right? you can get onto the internet, google something, watch something live. back then, none of that was there. how did people get their news? newspaper, right? which would always mean it was after the fact. or if they were lucky enough and had a radio broadcast. the precursor to at&t and the belo corporation did something revolutionary during this time.
they actually placed a live phone call from the time the unknown soldier left the capitol building to the time he was buried in arlington national cemetery. they did not record it, unfortunately, but you can imagine the commentator having to describe what he is seeing through the entire process. it was played in new york city, san francisco, and washington, d.c., so millions of americans got to experience this. during the ceremonies in arlington national cemetery, there was something called the national salute. it is something that society has been working on to try to get reinstituted every november 11. we have been working on it for three or four years and it is something you can help us with. it is very simple. on november 11 in 1921, they paused for a minute to remember all of the dead from world war i. then they continued that cause for another full minute to think
about all the soldiers in the future who are going to die for our nation. and then they ended it by playing taps. something very simple that you can do in your communities by ringing bells 21 times, pausing to remember all of your community's veterans that did not make it home, and then playing taps. i encourage you to join us across the nation as we do this this year and continuing to 2021. president harding is the eulogy, and i want to read something he talked about in 1921. he said, we are met here today to pay the impersonal tribute, the name of him who his body lies before us took flight with his imperishable soul. we know not whence he came, but only that his death came with the everlasting glory of an american dying for his country.
hundreds of mothers are wondering today, finding a touch of solace in the possibility that this nation's grief over the one that she bore, to live and to die if need be, for the republic. and with that, he conferred upon our unknown soldier the congressional medal of honor, our nation's highest award for valor. there were other nations present to witness this, and each one of them came forward and did the exact same thing. this is one of the first times -- i am going to have to double check, but i am pretty sure it is the only time -- that an american has received the victorian cross, the british highest award for honor. the belgian commander representing his nation had a nice little box with his nation's highest award, but instead of using that one, he was so overcome with emotion that he ripped the award off his own chest and place it on the
casket of our unknown soldier. because again, americans helped liberate his nation. he was carried from the memorial amphitheater to where he lays today. just before being placed into the ground, a gentleman by the name of chief plentycoo, who represented the native american nations, placed upon the tomb the war bonnet and his coo sticks. if you know anything about native american tradition, you understand that is a great honor. as he was lowered into the ground -- something most people don't understand or don't know about -- underneath where he lay in the crypt is two inches of soil from france from the same battlefields he fought on. the cap was placed. and the unknown soldier was finally home. in some of the other pictures is this very
beautiful, simple headstone. very flat. and if you look at the vista, you see washington, d.c., there, the lincoln memorial and the capital building or white house. back then, think about people coming into the semi to pay their respects. maybe they don't understand what this was. about 1925, a in veteran of the war comes around the corner to pay his respects, and what does he find? somebody having a picnic on that big, white, marble flat piece. if there are veterans in the room, i know what your response would have been, the same as ,ine, probably just as colorful to let them know what you are doing is an appropriate. -- is inappropriate. however, this person went down to the white house and told the man, this is wrong, you have to do something about it. something we probably wish we
could do today, go to the white house and talk to the president. the president said, you are right, that is wrong, we have to fix it. congress had originally intended to put something on top of the grave, some sort of sarcophagus. immediately a civilian guard was placed on duty during the hours the cemetery was open to make sure none of this tomfoolery would happen again. they started the process of designing what is now what you see on the tomb of the unknown soldier. one of the interesting things that people may get a misconception of in the media is you hear them refer to the tomb of the unknown soldier ads tomb of the unknowns. there is one tomb, this one. 12 feet down as the unknown soldier from world war i. that is the tomb of the unknown soldier. these grips to the west of the tomb -- and a third one over here -- they are not part of the tomb. they are their own separate graves.
unknown soldiers from different wars are buried in those. two of the unknowns is not exactly correct. it is the tomb of the unknown soldier. the marble itself came from colorado, about a 75 pound block. you can imagine back in those days that transporting a huge solid block of marble was probably a technical or the challenge. you had to dig it out of the mountain, which took about 75 guys, transfer it down without breaking it, put it on horse-drawn carriages, which i am assuming you would need a lot of forces. get it down to the train station for probably a bumpy ride all the way to washington, d.c. where the same people that carved the lincoln statue now had one chance to get this right, because the whole process was going to be difficult if they screw it up. so on the tomb itself on the north and south side, you are going to see inverted wreaths.
they represent these six major battle campaigns of world war i. they are inverted to represent mourning. most of the time they go the other direction. the west side is what people think today is the front because it has the words written on it that everybody sees and that is where people led wreaths. but the front side is actually the east emma side, it -- eastside, and it has three figures. it is a beautiful carving into the marble. figures represent peace, valor, and victory. you can see their hands are intertwined because peace, valor, and victory are intertwined when it comes to the sacrifices made by the soldiers during world war i. so it is kind of blocked off to where you can't walk up and get a good view of it, but there are great pictures that give you the detail of it. it is truly an amazing carving on the two.
omb. in 1926, we saw the civilian guard's transition to military guards, just during the time arlington national cemetery was open. you went from the original tomb itself to the much larger tomb. when they finally put in the mass you see the sentinels walking on today, you could walk across them, walking next to the sentinel, see whether they were doing their duty. over time those chains have been pushed back further and further. during my time, there was no way you could get up that close. the war to end all wars, right? world war i, the great war. we are not going to do it again. it is the war that changed the world definitely and made america a power player on this world stage.
well, unfortunately, we tend to not learn from war, and world war ii started. again, covering the globe, two different theaters. by the time the war was over, the veterans said, we need to do something similar. we need to have an unknown soldier place in arlington next to the original unknown soldier. one of the draft plans called for almost an exact duplicate of the tomb as you see it, just side-by-side now. they said all right, we're going to do that. and 1951 is when we are going to make that happen. what happened in 1950? the korean war. to some of the veterans in this war, thank you for your service during that conflict. everything gets put on the shelf. they take care of the war, 1953 is done. all right, we are done, we need to do this.
congress said, you are right, but we are going to do a double internment, world war ii unknown soldier as well as the korean soldier. the logistical challenges were still there. you had to find candidate soldiers, much like was done during 1921, and european theaters, and some way we have to bring them together and make a final selection. they went through roughly the same process. they went to cemeteries in france and the european theater, selected soldiers they could identify except for the fact they were american and had died in combat. they made a selection for the transatlantic. they did the same thing in hawaii for the transpacific. within days, they did the same thing for the korean war unknown soldier. the korean war unknown soldier was decimated in hawaii. the transpacific candidate was also designated in hawaii.
after the appropriate ceremonies , they brought the unknown soldier candidate from the transatlantic aboard the uss boston. france toew them from guantanamo bay, cuba, placed it on the uss boston and started transporting to the virginia shoreline. the transpacific and korean war unknown soldiers were flown to the united states, landing at travis air force base -- i'm sorry -- yes, travis air force base, then coming across to virginia where they were put aboard the uss landy. those ships all met at sea. do we have any navy veterans and audience? i, probably know better than transferring something at sea is a logistical nightmare. with high lines and ropes, moving ocean at speed.
this wasn't just food or supplies, they actually did the process of moving the body's from one ship to another. they brought all them aboard the uss canberra. they immediately separated the korean war unknown soldier and placed a guard upon ham of united states marines. the two candidates were placed into a room. they were transferred into identical caskets, flags draped on them, shuffled about, and the guard was posted for over a day. sometime during there, they would shuffle them some more so there is no way to know that this casket came from this ship, i.e. this theater of operations. they brought them out onto the deck of the uss canberra, where a hospital man first class made the final selection for the world war ii unknown soldier. he selected the casket to the right of the korean war unknown soldier. so this is the korean war unknown soldier, are redesignated, and these were --
already decimated, and these were the two candidates. having never seen it, i am sure it was very impressive were moving, but the candidate not selected was given full military burial at sea. once it was done, both of the unknown soldiers were transferred to another ship for transport back up the potomac, on may 28 arrived and started the process just like 1921, with the world war ii soldier coming off the ship first, followed by the korean war soldier, making the ceremonial trip to the capital building, where they land state. wherewas only one bier the caskets would lay upon, so there was a second one created. as the soldiers lay in state for two days, on the second day they made the transitions of each of
the unknown soldiers lay on that specific bier. thousands of americans paid their respects to our unknown soldiers, filing in and then following the ceremony as they were taken to arlington national cemetery, where they were both awarded the congressional medal of honor and laid to rest. the question that i have for you is, during the military ceremony when you have the flag across the casket, it gets folded and handed to the next of kin. who is the next of kin for the unknown soldiers? who is there to accept that awesome responsibility? in this case, it is the presidents of the united states. and world war i, president harding. in world war ii, president dwight d. eisenhower, most fitting because he was the supreme allied commander during the war. vice president richard nixon was the next of kin for the korean war unknown soldier.
fast-forward to 1984, president reagan was next of kin for the vietnam unknown soldier. 1958 the tombin of the unknowns soldier looked like. again, the tomb where world war i was buried. you have one were to and the -- you have world war ii and the korean war unknown soldier. 1984, america was dealing with the issues of the vietnam war. you have to admit, we didn't treat our soldiers very well, not like today. when i came home from work, it was vastly different. there was plenty of political pressure to find and designate an unknown soldier from the vietnam conflict. if you have ever had the opportunity to listen to colonel patricia blossom give her presentation about what her family went through as the government identified her
brother as an unknown soldier and laid him in arlington national cemetery, i suggest you go on youtube and listen to her story. 1984 theyo say, in knew who the unknown soldier was. but because of politics, they went ahead with the ceremony, following the same traditions in 1921 and 1958, designating a set of remains as the vietnam unknown soldier in hawaii, bringing him home to the united states, going to the same process of burying him in between the korean and world war ii unknown soldiers on may 30, 1984. fast-forward to 1998. that's when i was down there. i was a relief commander. it was during that time they did the disinterment of the vietnam unknown soldier. the family have said, we would like to have the unknown soldier disinterred so we can test the
dna to make sure that our son in that grave. for me personally, there is four unknown soldiers. every time i look at the tomb, there is four. i had the privilege of guarding that unknown soldier as he presented to -- as he represented all the fallen and missing from that conflict. at the same time, i truly understand how the family's closure was necessary. they were able to take their son and brother home and bury him in the st. louis jefferson barracks national cemetery. the process for getting the unknown soldier out of where he was buried was very our u.s. -- very arduous. the company that put him in, you have a concrete casing, the crypt itself, a concrete cover over the top of this deal to prevent it -- top of the steel to prevent damage. the marble cover was on top. when the company put them in, they said, we are doing such a
good job, they will never come out. in 1988, they said, we need you to do this. kid was not until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning that they finally were able to break the concrete that unknown casket up and out. the commanding general at that time was a major general robert fully. he's about six foot six. someone that when he came to the quarters, we all looked up to. he turned around and pointed to a couple sentinels and said i need you to get in there and lift the casket out. as a tomb guards, our mission is to protect the tomb from any disrespect. nobody touches the tomb of the unknown soldier. we do not allow that. that is our mission, as dictated by congress. for the general to say get in there and touch this casket was mind blowing for those two sentinels. generalbalked and the
said you will do it as tomb guards or i will have the construction workers do it. the soldiers did what they were supposed to do, they got in there and i can tell you it didn't mess with their mind thinking about, i have been protecting everybody from touching this and now here i am handling the casket and lifting the body out. it messed with them. the ceremonies were conducted the next morning. was difficult to stand on the side of the plaza and watch as my brother was taken away. someone that i had stood watch over. that is why, when i look at the tim, i still see for unknown soldiers. casket -- decrypt to cover was re-engraved to talk about how we are honoring and keeping faith was america's missing servicemen.
decrypt its self remains empty. still provide honors and we still do flags and adlai reeves as if there is an unknown soldier. we still leave that. talk but the old guard. this is the unit must the third united states infantry unit that was given the responsibility in 1958. ofwell as assume the duties the tomb of the unknown soldier. infantry oldest regiment having served as far back as the revolutionary war. it is an honor to be part of this regiment. to join coming you have to apply within the army. not everybody can make it. you have to meet height and weight requirements. don't look at might waste line, i don't meet those requirements. i am retired. i get a little break.
your assigned for a minimum of three years. then you can try out for each of the specialty platoons. providesthe society meet the unique opportunity of engaging with whom guards -- guards that have served across multiple generations. one of my best friends served in 1958 and he was a relief commander. he was a staff sergeant, i was a staff sergeant. we were both born on may 11. he was born a lot earlier than me. jim about and talk to his experience as a relief commander in 1958, they were the same as my experience as a relief commander in 1998 your it is eight unique organization. -- it is a unique organization. we have common ground.
today andsentinels men and women today have that instant want. release andt the the changing of the guard and the ceremonies and we discover that it is the same. little modifications such as a weapons. was doing a little more research to set up the slideshow, i came across a great old video, or movie from 1960. anyone that has been in the military and gone through a reception has in the propaganda done by their services that tell you about what not to do. in theve great music background. the big picture. it is a small clip of what it looked like to change the guard in 1960. if you have ever been to the tomb of the unknown soldier and a sine current changing, there
is not much of a difference here. with that, watch the big picture. ♪ >> the mission of perpetually guarding the sacred shine, 24 hours a day every day of the year, this is an honor for which the first battle group has been chosen. beside the grave of an unknown soldier of world war i lies an unknown a service man of world war ii. ♪ and another who fell in the korean war. into the guardroom beneath the amphitheater men of the honor guard waited their turn. they carry out duties essential to the perfection surrounding every aspect of the tomb guards mission.
>> new guard begins a tour of duty that keeps alive the meaning of the symbol of sacrifice. ♪ sgt. mcilvenna: the guard change has not been modified to much. standing here with a giant screen behind me, i felt like i was black on the plaza for a second. we hope the public is able to look through us, because we are just the backstop. to see the tomb and the unknown soldiers and understand why we guarded them. to preserve the memory and honor our sacrifice.
there are little modifications. team guards have a way of trying to perfect everything that we do. in 1920 one, there were no guards. civilian guards. on april 2, 1937 we started the 24 hour guard. since that time, the unknown soldiers have never been left alone. when you wake up in the middle of the night and go to the kitchen to get a glass of water and look after her kitchen window, you know that at that very moment there is a young man or woman standing the watch of of the unknown soldier. rain, snow, hurricanes, throw the bad weather at us, we love it. being uplly loved there at night time when there is no crowds. you get to ponder who they are, where they came from, how they died. nowtheir families are doing
that they can't go to a specific grave. there are three different areas we work on. the mission, the reason we are there. they do wreath ceremonies. we do briefings. to the public. we assist the public when they do their recent ceremonies. the platoon is broken down into three different release and you can tell by their height. the third relief is the short relief. they are 511 to six foot. the second is 6'2" 6'2". my relief, first release is 6'2" and above. when they are out there, you have uniformity across the board and everyone should look about the same. we notice it as a tomb guards when there is a change in the seeshifts, because we can
the height difference. we can tell by the color of the stock they are carrying. members of the regiment, regardless of their sex or mos are eligible to try out for the tomb of the unknown soldier. you have to volunteer for the regiment and volunteer to go down there. 90% attrition rate is what happens. just because of the training process. learning a new duty is difficult. part of that is the uniform standards. astake the standards, derived by -- we take them a little bit farther. we don't do this to draw attention to ourselves. when you see a sentinel on the mat, you will notice there is no rank on their uniform. that is because we don't know the rank of the unknown soldiers. we will never outrank them. will do itm e six, i
with a blouse that has no rank. the process to get up to standard are difficult. these are the same things that we have, but we have built up the race on them to protect us from the heat and cold of the marble and put metal teachers on the inside so when we do heel clicks, we are not smacking our ankle bones together. then, we shined them to make them look like leather. it takes hours. when i first started doing this, it took me eight hours to get a shoot to where i thought was close and my trainer looked at it, laughed and said it was not near close. over time, i looked the techniques and trips to get it down to two hours per shoe. they weigh about five pounds a piece. i still have my trainers.
it is fun to be able to stand up and walk around in them. they are full wall winter lose uniforms. in the summertime, if you have been to d.c., it is a swamp. not just politically, but it is literally a swamp. so the humidity, and the summertime is horrible. about 3:00 every afternoon, what happens? it rains because the humidity gets so bad here it but that heavy uniform looks good when you press it, so that is what they use. of the testingon process to become a tomb guard is learning a various amount of knowledge. i have got might briefing book down here. you can imagine a book of this size with 12 different poems, 200 different braids.
week, they give me a page and it is double sided. you have to memorize it verbatim. give youweek they will another page if you are able to recite it verbatim here it again, it just builds and builds. when people would come into the cemetery and say where is audie murphy married? then, where is a jfk? where is lee marvin? all the names that as you walk to the cemetery, you can see people that impacted our nation and that is where our list of about 200 came from. now we have to know where they are but how to get there in the middle of the night and something about those individuals. when we take our test, they take our book from us. they make us stand at attention in our uniform and do our
uniform inspection and they say, recite your knowledge, go. from the very first word to the last word, we have to recite it for bait him. it takes about an hour. when we are done with that, as if that was not difficult enough, they had us a piece of paper and with 100 questions on it, satan outright it out. pronunciation or,, because each one is points against you. you have to get 95% to pass the written test. it takes about seven to 12 months to earn the tomb guard identification badge. this is the third least awarded that in the army. it used to be the second least until the horsemanship was installed. it takes a lot into its design. the inverted reeves -- inverted
wreaths. you have the words on her guard written across -- you have the words honor guard written across the bottom. does anyone know what the least awarded army badge might be? >> astronaut? sgt. mcilvenna: astronaut badge. awardingpate giving or the tomb hard identification badge to five or six sentinels per year because it takes so long. badge that cany be revoked after you leave the military. so, i decided for one day to do something crazy like so a bunch of drugs or whatever, and i get busted by the cops. this badge it can be revoked, removed from might record even though have been retired or many years.
down in the quarters, we have a large dad to board that list every sentinels since 1958 that has received the tomb guard identification. on it there will be some that simply say revoked. each one of them are numbered. if you ever go to the tomb into the badge board, you will see number 457, that is mine. then,t saying that since we are up to 658 or 59. that happened in 1958 but tomb guards have been around -- people guarding the tomb since 1937. there just was not a badge created at that time. on ais one of the things tomb guards uniform you will not touch. the other being their shoes, not unless you want to get into a fist fight. the sentinels creed is something that we live by even now that i have left the military, one of the lines in our sentinels creed
is that my standard will remain perfection. i take that to heart. everything i learned i transition over. my wife crazy, but that is the way it was beat into me. i will carry that creed over and over again. in 2021, there will be a centennial celebration. we are working with the federal government and other agencies such as the world war i national museum and memorials to bring some of the stories about the unknown soldiers to life. we know when they left france and arrived in washington, d.c., but what happened in the middle? how can we as a nation come together as a community of pause ands and remember on november 11 in the national salute. if you ever feel like you would
like to help us out, go to our website. look for the centennial information. we are part of you. this is your national shrine. where you can do go and pause and reflect on the sacrifice of so many americans over so many different conflicts. that, i think we have time to open it up for questions. we would ask that you join us at either of the microphones. if you're not able to come down to a microphone, flag at me and i can come up to you. >> i know everybody has seen the no going around that says that we don't rank and we don't curse and we remain celibate for the rest of our lives. i know you want to ask that question. you start with high expectations.
high expectation for really good questions. >> how long is a shift? sgt. mcilvenna: i'm sorry that i didn't cover that. great question. when the cemetery is open in the summertime, the shifts were assembled during daylight hours to half an hour. and that happen hour, they will walk them at 21 times or 21 paces along the mat and they for 21use and face seconds. does anyone know why 21 is such an important number? 21 gun salute. the nation's highest way of saying we recognize and honor you. those halfe, during hours there might be a couple re-ceremonies. in the wintertime and nighttime, the half-hour is extended to one full hour. again, they might be some brief ceremonies in there. the guard change that you see going on, does it happen at
midnight? yes. regardless of if there is anyone standing on the steps, the exact same guard change happens. good question. >> another question right here. that the flags are presented to the president, what becomes of the flags after the president accepts the flag for the unknown and, the other question that has always been something that i want to know the answer to, what became of the medal of honor for our vietnam unknown? sgt. mcilvenna: good questions, both of them. uponhe actual flags placed the caskets and folded by the joint forces colors tame and presented to the next of can are on display in the memorial display room directly west of the assume -- of the tomb of the unknown soldier. doors.ehind the giant
go in and look. you will be amazed. of those flagsch that were put on the caskets and you will also find each of the medals of honor. specifically regarding the vietnam, the medal of honor was awarded in the name of congress to the vietnam unknown soldier. and the soldier was identified, the middle stayed there in arlington. it was not conferred upon the captain. i hope that answers your question. >> [indiscernible] sgt. mcilvenna: that is our only duty when you are assigned to the tomb of the unknown soldier. it doesn't seem like we worked much when you look at the calendar, because a relief will come on duty and serve for 24 hours. actually about 26 or 28. theythat 24 hour period
live down in the quarters and performed their duties. then the relief will get a day off and they will come back and do another set of 24 hours and then another day off. then they will do their final 24 hours in that workweek. on calendar, they only work nine days, but those are nine a solid of 24 hours a day. when we are not down there, we ,re off taking care of uniforms if they are in training, learning knowledge and trying to impress upon the badge holders that they want to be there and they know what they are doing and improve their skills. i woulda badge holder, still come down and practice and rehearse and make sure that what i am doing is perfection to the best i can do it. >> [indiscernible] >> hold on just a second. >> the test you went through, i thought maybe you used that knowledge for lectures or did something else with that knowledge?
sgt. mcilvenna: the current tomb guards to do a briefing every day. i want to say it is that 10:00 :00.maybe one at 14 they do something similar but probably about 15 minutes. when i was down there, we did not stand outside to answer questions from the public. in the 50's and 60's that happened. that is why we have that knowledge put upon us. it is not just the unknown soldiers, it is about arlington, the army, our regiment. everything that surrounds the unknown soldiers. i hope that answers your question. >> i believe our next question is going to be coming from claudine, who is wanting to be sure that i get my workout in for the day. she is also a phenomenal volunteer at the the national world war i museum. >> could you tell me, do you know at this point what is going ,o happen in the years to come
because we can't seem to keep away from war? others.e will be what is the plan? there are only three spots there now, is there enough room for the future? sgt. mcilvenna: very good question. with the advances in dna technology, i seriously doubt there will ever be another unknown soldier. for those of you that served, anytime recently, it seems like every year when we do our medical screening we provide another dna sample for the databases. i don't think you will see another unknown soldier from any of the conflicts ever identified or placed in arlington. if not, laura can run back up the stairs. >> i know there probably are more questions and we would welcome those.
but i believe now is also the time for me to say it is truly on the stage is someone who is able to share about the history of the tomb of the unknown soldier. we are so pleased to be partnering with you all as we head toward that centennial and all that it means as well. we would encourage you to take a look at the website for the society of the honor guard, tomb of the unknown soldier. we would encourage you to also join our partners, heartland men's chorus and find out more about the amazing story that is being told in music and in art later in june. join us next week as we explore more of this story and join us and a day you want to over the summer. we are open seven days a week and it is a joy to have you here at the the national world war i
museum and memorial. these join me in thanking sgt. mcilvenna. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] >> sunday, at 4 p.m. eastern on real america. the president, 1968, a film detailing the tumultuous months
of june 1968 through the camera lens of the white house nabel photographic unit covering the activities of president lyndon b. johnson. >> at 3:30 a.m. the president was awakened with the news that beenor robert kennedy had shot and critically wounded by an assassin. the day of the senator's death, president johnson sent letters to the president of the senate and speaker of the house with urgently implored congress to enact a meaningful and effective gun control law. in june, much of the president's attention was centered on the peace talks. reporting on an apparent impasse at those meetings. from vietnam, the reports were are from optimistic. instead of a slowdown in hostilities as a result of peace negotiations, become yunis -- newcommunists unleased a
assault. at a news conference on june 26, the president announced that supreme court chief justice earl warren was retiring. in making his third and fourth appointments to the high court, the president knew that his choices would affect the destiny of the nation long after he himself had left office. ica this reel amer weekend on c-span3. war"xt, on "the civil author in historian john reeves discussed his book "the lost indictment of robert e. lee" which recounts the june 18 65 indictment against the general lee and other confederate leaders for treason and were crimes.
the document went missing for 72 years. reeves contended the indictment's disappearance is symbolic of how americans quickly forget the legal and moral case against lee. the national archives in washington, d.c. hosted this one hour talk. our topic for today is the lost indictment of robert e. lee, the forgotten case against a american icon by john reeves. john has been a teacher, editor, and writer for over 25 years. the civil war has been a passion the americant read picture history as an elementary school student in the 1960's. recently his articles on robert e. lee have been each are gone and theington post history news network. earlier in his career, he taught european and american history at