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Tomb of the Unknown sentinel braves frigid temps on guard

Tuesday - 1/7/2014, 2:14pm  ET

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Tomb Sentinels like Spc. Nathaniel Chartier remain at their post regardless of the weather. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Jose A. Torres Hr.)

WASHINGTON - While the rest of the country deals with record-breaking frigid temperatures by bundling up and cancelling schools, some organizations just don't have the option.

The Tomb Sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is standing his ground.

According to the Facebook page of the 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), "Tomb Sentinels like Spc. Nathaniel Chartier remained on duty, bundled up as much as possible to safely keep their watch."

Temperatures at Arlington National Cemetery dropped to 5 degrees Tuesday morning.

The Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and in any weather by Tomb Guard sentinels. Sentinels, all volunteers, are considered to be the best of the elite and headquartered at Fort Myer, Va.

While on duty the Tomb Sentinel crosses a 63-foot-rubber surfaced walkway in exactly 21 steps. He then faces the Tomb for 21 seconds, turns again, and pauses an additional 21 seconds before retracing his steps.

The 21 is symbolic of the highest salute according to dignitaries in military and state ceremonies.

Members of The Old Guard have guarded the Tomb every second, of every day regardless of weather or holidays since April 6, 1948.

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