- The Washington Times - Monday, September 29, 2003

Blew in one ear …

You might have read about “The Old Guard” hurricane vigil.

Now, “valiant” members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment are being saluted for their recent act of “patriotism” on Capitol Hill.

“As Hurricane Isabel’s winds swept over Arlington National Cemetery, the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns were given — for the first time in history — permission to abandon their posts and seek shelter,” observes House Armed Services Committee Rep. Jeff Miller, Florida Republican.

“But that wasn’t what was going to happen, and Sgt. Christopher Holmes knew it.”

To provide some background, the Army sergeant’s guards take turns patrolling the cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknowns in hourly shifts — never leaving their post.

The tomb was established in 1921 with the interment of an unknown World War I soldier, and a sentry has been posted there continuously, around the clock, since 1930.

“Cemetery superintendent John Metzler didn’t want to put the guards in jeopardy unnecessarily with the fierce storm bearing down Thursday night,” Mr. Miller notes, “so cemetery officials decided to let the guards move indoors if they felt they were in danger.

“That’s never an option for us,” Sgt. Holmes was quoted as saying. “It went in one ear and right out the other.”

Buried treasure

Is archaeologist Ben Gates off his rocker by suggesting the whereabouts of a hidden national treasure is encoded on the back of the Declaration of Independence — placed there, no less, by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson?

We’ll have to wait until November 2004 to find out. That’s when “National Treasure,” a suspense thriller starring Nicolas Cage (Gates), is scheduled for release.

As we speak, the movie is being filmed at several Washington locations, including Archives, Pennsylvania Avenue between Third and 12th streets, and Constitution Avenue between Seventh and 10th Streets.

Embarrassing capital

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