Big Bad Sandy No Match for the Good Guys

This photo was going around Facebook and on the news, in case you missed. If you know the photographer’s name, please send so I can credit him or her.* In our 24-7 news cycle, we may become inured to images of soldiers in hardship (or worse), and then a photo like this lands and stops you in your tracks. The quiet pride and dignity of it, the discipline, the honor.

Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington Cemetery, mid-hurricane Sandy.
Guarding the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Arlington Cemetery, mid-hurricane.

This is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington Cemetery, which even on the sunniest day you cannot fail to be moved by. And these fellows aren’t just anyone, they are the honor guard of the 3rd Infantry, also known as the “Old Guard,” the oldest active infantry unit in the U.S. military, and one of the most elite. The tomb guard’s history, requirements, and rituals are as inspiring as they are fascinating, if you’d like to read more…

My own Cowboy was an officer in the 3rd Infantry when Lincoln was president (okay Coolidge). My father was in the 82nd Airborne. My stepfather was a fighter pilot in the USMC. My cousin was an admiral in the Navy, also a fighter pilot, and at his retirement commander of the Allied Pacific forces (Sync-Pac). He is buried in Arlington. Claire, who sent this photo to my friend Kate, is the daughter of a Marine colonel who died in a Marine plane crash eight years ago. Kate’s own father and her husband were Marine Corps fighter pilots and her oldest son is a newly minted 1st lieutenant.

Honor and valor are two of humankind’s most beautiful acts. Our troops demonstrate these qualities everyday to defend this great country. And now this terrible storm puts in harm’s way our troops at home, our reserves, our first-responders, our friends, families and neighbors, any of whom may be called upon to demonstrate honor, courage, and God willing common sense. Please be careful all of you in Sandy’s path. Be intelligent, be sensible, be patient, be honorable.

Blessings, Frances

*About the photo, I’ve heard since posting this that while the photo is authentic, the timing is not. Was actually not taken during hurricane but earlier in the year: and here:



  1. I saw another photo of them on and just about lost it, they just take over your heart, don’t they? God bless and keep them safe. My prayers are with everyone getting battered by the storm.

  2. Thank you for the moving photo Frances…does not matter one speck when it was actually taken.
    How did Bee Cottage weather this horrible storm? xo cam

  3. Thank you for the post and history of the soldiers that guard the unknowns. I am sure
    those men that fight for our country were
    at the tomb yesterday in the wind and rain.
    That makes me proud!

  4. My uncle, who was a Colonel in the Air Force in Viet Nam, was buried in Arlington. A few years ago, his wife, my favorite aunt, was buried on top of him in Arlington National Cemetery. Yes, I said on top of him. The wife is buried in the same grave, but, as my aunt often said, “She gets to be on top”!

    Before my precious aunt’s funeral service, the family gathered in an underground building to wait for the service. Downstairs, in a dark, but very tastefully decorated room, there were sofas and chairs for family and friends to rest and wait for the appointed time when we would be escorted to the grave site. As I surveyed the room, I noticed a video screen on one wall. Instead of CNN news or an athletic event, there was a live video stream from the Tomb of the Unknowns. I watched the screen silently, mesmerized by the even steps of the guard walking back and forth. I had seen the tomb in person before, but seeing it on that screen in real time moved me to tears. I will never forget it.

    1. Diane, thank you for this moving story, and for taking the time to write it. It touched me and surely has touched us all. Frances

  5. It is indeed a very moving photograph regardless of time. My Dad is there in Arlington, WWII officer and POW, purple heart recipient. These men made every moment of his service especially heartfelt. So nice of you to post this in their honor. I’m hearbroken for the victims of this storm. xo Pete

    1. Wow, Pete, I did not know that. You must be very proud, as are we all. My heart, too, goes out to the storm’s unfortunate. Thank you for writing dear friend. xo

  6. Frances, Just a note to express my appreciation for being privy to your world; that of humor, wit and style.
    You and your Cowboy are adorable together and I wish you many years of bliss. I’m not sure how I started getting your blog, but it is the most engaging truly unique “place,” I go to for a brief time in my day.

    1. Dear Dianne, thank you very much for your kind wishes and for the huge compliment of your attention. It is my privilege. Frances

  7. I recall seeing the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier on a Trip to D.C. as a young child. I could not fully grasp the concept, but yet knew by my father’s reaction, who was born in 1917, the importance of the monument. Later, while attending school in D.C., Arlington would be a place I would often visit for times of reflection.

    1. Thank you, Kathleen. I hope you were able to read a bit via the link about The Old Guard and their traditions, and the tomb guards in particular. It is really something. I love to hear the Cowboy’s stories about them. xo Frances

  8. Did you get any information on Bee Cottage? Halloween today is a real horror show for those in the north east today. My family was safe and my sisters house survive but many around hers is are totally destroyed. Americans are strong and all will be different but rebuilt.

    1. Hi Gigi and glad to know your family is safe, but you are right, a real horror show for millions. Yes we are a resilient and stalwart peoplem and we will re-build as we always have. You are so kind to inquire about Bee – it seems to be okay, thank goodness. Thanks and blessings to you and yours, Frances

  9. Frances Lots of fun things to catch up on, yet this is the most NASTY, NASTY storm I have ever experienced. And I grew up in Buffalo NY with snow. “Leave it where Jesus Flung It” has been the MO I learned from David Easton. Years ago. So glad you are all safe. Isn’t it so fun the cowboy did have the job at the tomb of the unknown soldier. He was on the Ed Sullivan show for being the host spokesmen. I hope you know that or have seen the video. Love to you both JuneBug

    1. Hey Junebug! Thank you for writing and we loved being with you a few weeks ago… Yes a horrible storm indeed and hope you all in Bedford are clearing out all right… Also just to clarify, His Grace did not actually guard the Tomb but was officer in charge of the guard, and yes girl I knew he was on The Ed Sullivan Show with the Honor Guard. He was, and is, something else. xo F

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