This is military history in action.
The Changing of the Guard at the Arlington National Cemetery is one of the most revered military ceremonies in the United States. In this intricate routine, a uniformed relief commander in spotless dress signals the change. A fresh sentinel comes forward to take the position, unlocks the bolt of their M-14 rifle, and presents it to the relief commander.
The commander inspects the weapon with white-gloved precision, snaps it around in a dazzling display, and hands it back to the sentinel.
The pair march to the retiring sentinel in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and the guard is changed.
According to commenter Andres Perez, the routine plays out like this:
- 0:02 to 0:05 – The composure of the soldier and nerves control. When the commander snaps the rifle, checks first the reaction of the soldier.
- 0:08 to 0:10 – The commander checks the vertical shape of the rifle, 0°.
- 0:10 to 0:13 – The commander checks the stock’s butt’s metal balance, 45° to 50° while making a 80° to 90° line to form the perfect arc, so the stock gets no unproper failing in the shooting.
- 0.13 to 0:18 – Checks wood’s texture and checks the weight balance in the rifle, with the purpose of solid aiming.
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- 0:18 to 0:26 Texture checking, different hit and position along with the bayoneta’s hold, Perfect straight lined, dust checking at the end, Soldier’s proof of neat.
- 0:26 to 0:32 Trigger, forestock and barrel’s inspection. Rusting not allowed.
- 0:32 to 0:35 Rear sight checking, to check if there’s no deflection.
- 0:35 to 0:41 Rifle’s lock checking, lock and unlock; Sling’s possible defects checking. The lock must have a normal function, emergency needed. Sling needed to hold tight for soldier’s movement, needed to be strong and still functional.
- 0:41 to 0:46 Barrel straight lined, perfect 90°
- 0:46 to 0:49 Bolt checking. No bullets, shaking needed for powder/dust accumulation.
- 0:49 to 0:53 Bayoneta straight lined 90° must be same straight parallel lined as the barrel.
- 0:53 to 0:57 Pushing barrel confirming, weapon well built and not flaw.
- 0:57 to 0:59 Opposite side checking.
- 0:59 to 1:04 Bolt inner checking, hit in the butt plate, clicks, no bullet stuck or metal inner marking.
- 1:04 to 1:10 Fore-end to trigger guard checking. Body flaws inspection.
- 1:10 to 1:15 Stock-to-Butt Metal measuring, 90° marking.
- 1:15 to 1:21 Downside inspection along with 90° marking.
- 1:21 to 1:30 Soldier focus controlling eye contact signal – rifle recieving.
With that in mind, this ceremonial exchange is all the more impressive!
Watch the whole routine in the video below.
Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.