The Power of Ceremony

I’ve been mulling this over for a few days. We toured Arlington National Cemetary last week and I got to see the changing of the guard at The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. As a piece of theatre it delivered a most eerie feeling–doubly so because it caught me unawares.

The Honor Guard is a voluntary unit in which each member trains 8 months before they take their first post. Each guard, when on duty and on the line, takes 21 steps to the other end of the line, waits 21 seconds, and returns 21 steps to his first position on the line. This is an echo of the military’s 21 gun salute.

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Every half hour, every day, every year, the guard is changed. The sight of 3 of the honor guard is so different from the time you spent watching the one guard, but for the click of his boots, on silent vigil. For 10 minutes all that you can focus on is the unnatural, but purposeful, noise created in an otherwise peaceful cemetary.

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Then, without really being able to pick out the precise moment, there’s just the guard. The other 2, as if made of smoke, have disappeared–leaving us to wonder if they were really ever there in the first place.

He paces out his 21 steps, stands silently his 21 seconds, and continues until relieved. The strange thing is that if you don’t look closely, he may not ever be relieved of his vigil.



Filed under Art, Entertainment, military, Theatre

16 responses to “The Power of Ceremony

  1. Hello?

    Anyone out here?

    Lots o’ dust devils and tumbleweeds startin’ to blow ’round here.

    ‘sup wit dat? As eloquent and ethereal as this post strikes me, I certainly hope it isn’t your swan song.


  2. Blipey must have fallen off the face of the earth.

  3. You mean Ghost of Idiocy was right? The earth really IS flat???? Crap. I just lost twenty bucks.

  4. Oh, wait. He was arguing for geocentrism, not a flat earth. Whatever. Stupid is stupid.

  5. Nope. Not dead. The road’s starting to make me tired and I did spend last week in New York. Not much blogging getting done when you can run around the city that never sleeps. I’ll be back later this evening.

    And you still owe him twenty bucks. I was distracted from blogging when the Earth came to a screeching halt and the cosmos went whipping by.

    Now to dinner and I’ll finish up that literary post for you Janie. Expect it in the mail tonight.

  6. Okee Dokee. We’s all just worried about ya’ out there in the Big Worm-Eaten Apple.

  7. Hey Blipey, in your touching soliliqy I didn’t see any mention of you reflecting that the ceremony is about the sacrifice that American soldiers whose names you don’t and can’t even know gave up their lives so your stupid clown ass can freely wander the country being a stupid clown.

    Looking forward to seeing you in Austin this spring, dickweed. Bring Janell along if she has a nice ass (and no, you don’t qualify as the nice ass).

  8. oops – make that “soliloquy” 🙂

  9. Aweome DaveTard,

    Trouble with your wife or something? Does she know you’re trolling for ass?

    Thanks for letting me know the the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier recognizes unknown soldiers…never knew that before.

  10. His Tardiness said,

    “I didn’t see any mention of you reflecting that the ceremony is about the sacrifice that American soldiers whose names you don’t and can’t even know gave up their lives so your stupid clown ass can freely wander the country being a stupid clown.”

    He also failed to mention how they gave up their lives so your stupid tard ass can freely wander the web trolling for hits to get Uncommonly Disgustipatin’s numbers back up. But I don’t hold that against him.

    blipey questioned,

    “Trouble with your wife or something? Does she know you’re trolling for ass?”

    He must’ve gotten on her nerves again, and she sent him to the boat. Like when he was spendin’ all that time at our blog. Ahh those were good times, eh blipey?

  11. They really were good times; I miss them. UD used to be a place that some (very) few lost souls might be educated by seeing the super-tardity that went on there. Now that it is home to what 17 total idiots, there’s no more use for it.

    Anyone who might have been saved has been and now UD is just a giant waste of space…not even particularly funny anymore. Maybe his Tardness would realize that if he let people like Tom English comment forever he would always receive more traffic and marginally more discussion. Too bad he can’t see that the only content that has ever been brought to UD is by actual scientists.

    Stop trolling, DT, and run a real blog.

  12. Ogee

    Poor Davetard is in a horrible Catch-22 situation. Every time UD allows anyone knowledgeable to post, he gets humiliated. Every time he purges UD of such people, he highlights his cowardice, and UD is left with nothing but ignorant simpletons. Every time he ventures forth and participates where he doesn’t wield the ban stick (most recently and hilariously at UDOJ), he ends up brutally outclassed.

    What’s a ‘tard to do?

  13. anonymous

    Indeed – ignorant simpletons like Joseph and johnnyb and russ…

    The dumb leading the dumber over thewre, with the biggest dummy of all being worshipped like a demi-god – Sir William, as his piss-boy Salvadork once referred to him as…

  14. DaveScot

    Good theory on the boat but I put it up for sale at the end of the summer and it sold in a matter of weeks. Escrow closed just last week but it’s been out of the water getting surveyed since the end of September. I’m not sure what I’m going to replace it with yet but definitely something that I don’t have to worry about sinking if it breaks anchor and gets beached hard on the rocks. That’s been a nagging concern for too long. In other words this time I want a house on indestructable floats instead of a house on a hollow aluminum hull. Or I might just get a bigger RV and park that near the shore and just use the old houseboat dock for my smaller boats and guest parking. My small RV hasn’t even had the door opened for 4 years and that’s currently getting a makeover but it’s not back to being a doghouse as I haven’t even put the linens back in it yet. It’s shining up nice as it’s still less than 10 years old. I added a stand-up jetski to my watercraft fleet last month. It’s used and was built up for racing by the previous owner so it’s scary fast. Over 90hp and weighs under 300 lbs. I actually bought it a few years ago for my daughter and just got around to getting it seaworthy this fall since she wasn’t old enough to drive it before now. She learned how to stand up on it in no time. Most of the work was putting new rubber in the driver compartment. That was a horrible job scraping out all the old stuff to get a clean surface to glue the new stuff to. I tried several different solvents on the old glue and none of them really made it easy to do. That job took a good 15 hours. Other than that just a new battery, drain the old gas, replace some fuel lines that had cracked from age, replace the primer pump, grease the jet pump bearings, new spark plugs, and put some WD-40 in the control wear points and cables. I sure love Yamaha watersports products. That ski had been sitting around outside under a canvas cover for 5 years since last being started and with minimal effort was up and running like a champ again. The interior rubber needed replacing 5 years ago so that doesn’t count. I bought her an O’Neil drysuit so she can ride it in the winter too. I also cancelled the cable TV/internet service out at the lake. If I go the RV route I’ll get a mobile satellite dish for TV and use OP (other people’s) WiFi for internet. I discovered that someone nearby at the lake put in a wireless internet in their home that reaches me at my place so I’ll piggyback on that. They’re all over the place now so that’s a good option even on the road. Life is good.

  15. DaveScot


    No, the situation is that we get antagonists who know just enough to pick the appropriate archive out and present that so we end up refuting the same arguments over and over again. A truly informed adversary doesn’t resort to that and either gets his ass handed to him on a platter (like PhD Biologist Allen MacNeil) or is agnostic enough to mostly avoid getting backed into indefensible positions (like PhD Biologist Great_Ape whose real name I won’t reveal). Creative NeoDarwinian evolution has no convincing empirical evidence in support of it. No one has ever observed or demonstrated mutation plus natural or even unnatural selection creating novel cell types, tissue types, organs, or body plans. It’s an ad hoc narrative that enjoys its exclusive position in science simply because there isn’ t any other philosophically materialist explanation that can make a more convincing story. Every remote possibility is seized upon like a Titanic lifeboat though. It doesn’t matter. The ship is still sinking.

  16. Alright, everyone. Please take this drivel to another thread; you know, one that isn’t about the Ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. This applies even if one of the dead unknowns was also a biologists…or an ID supporter, I guess.

    I said above that UD has bored me and I don’t want it here. Now, if some of the denizons of said blog were to present some real evidence, data, and experimentation that’s another story. If any of you have such a thing in your possesion, please e-mail it to me and I will post it without alteration.

    Until then, shut up.

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