The US Army's Honor Guard holds one of the highest bestowed honors in the US Military; the Honor Guard Badge. Fewer than 700 soldiers have ever been awarded this privilege since the Guard's inception in 1958. It is the second-least awarded badge in the military second only to the Astronaut Badge.
Watching the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier is always an emotional event for me. I have visited Washington DC for forty years and even as a teenager was unable to watch without being overcome with emotion. No exception this day.
There were less than five people at the tomb this early September morning. An eerie change from the standing-room-only crowds which are the custom here (they came eventually). The windless trees echoed the snap of clicking heals and racking rifle slides. Otherwise, the soldier's movement is soundless. Silent and beautiful.