STANDING ON HOLY GROUND
It’s one of the sites everyone who visits Washington DC should take in! While it’s not located adjacent to the White House and the Capitol Building like so many other monuments, it is perhaps the most impressive site of them all.
Located across the Potomac River just west of the Lincoln Memorial is Arlington Cemetery, the final resting place for thousands of US military personnel, patriots, and Presidents. It’s an impressive place, but there’s one spot in Arlington that is an absolutely “must see” destination……the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
The Tomb itself is nothing spectacular. No one leaves the Tomb overly impressed with the grandeur of the architecture. But they do leave incredibly moved by what they see there! What they see is a remarkable tribute to those who have so valiantly fought for our freedom.
The guards at the Tomb are one of the most elite units in the U.S. Military. Soldiers from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) have that task. These dedicated soldiers guard the Tomb 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The pace 21 steps across the front of the tomb, pause for 21 seconds, then do an about face and march 21 steps back to their starting positions and repeat the process without interruption. A 21 gun salute is the highest honor given in the military, thus explaining the soldier’s routine.
These soldiers commit 2 years of their lives to this process, living in barracks under the Tomb. They spend an average of 5 hours per day just getting their uniforms ready. They also agree to not drink alcohol on or off duty for the rest of their lives.
To the men who are dedicated to this work, what they do is not a “show”. It is a “charge of honor.” The steady rhythmic step in rain, sleet, snow, hail, heat and cold must be uninterrupted. To these men the continuity of this post is the key to the honor and respect shown to these honored dead.
Seeing this in person is a truly moving experience. It’s obvious that these soldiers take this responsibility and privilege seriously. This is not some trivial pursuit….it is worthy of their very best!
As God’s children, we have all been given access to an even greater responsibility and privilege. God has given us all direct access to Him. Through His Word and prayer He invites us to enter into His presence. Unfortunately, too often we either don’t take advantage of that opportunity, or we come unprepared or distracted. We invest too little time or thought into the process.
When we come into God’s presence we are “standing on holy ground”. We’ve been invited to participate in something that is truly eternal. The significance of that opportunity cannot be overstated. God deserves our best, our full attention, and our commitment to the experience when we spend time with Him! Perhaps these soldiers can teach us all a lesson about preparation, respect and honor!
SCRIPTURE: “What message does my Lord have for his servant?” The commander of the Lord’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” -Joshua 5: 14b-15