The servicemen interred in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are “Known But to God,” but they are every American’s sons and brothers. In honor of their sacrifices, a perpetual guard and the United States flag have stood sentinel over them since July 2, 1937. Selected from the Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment, the tomb guards are an elite group who stand sentinel around the clock, regardless of weather conditions.
The guards follow a meticulous routine that consists of marching down the length of a black mat behind the tomb. They then turn and face east, turn and face north, and return down the mat. After each turn, the guards perform a “shoulder-arms” movement signifying their readiness to handle any threat.
The guards are changed every 30-120 minutes, depending on the season and time of day, and the schedule does not change due to inclement weather. This dedication is incorporated into the Sentinel’s Creed: “Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.” During blizzards, hurricanes, and the quiet of a summer’s night, the guards and the U.S. flag remain with the unknown soldiers, promising their sacrifices will never be forgotten by a grateful nation.
Laura Stutzman of Maryland created the patriotic gouache illustrations from her own photographs for the Flag for All Seasons stamps. Each of the four stamps in the issue pictures the U.S. flag, as seen from below, with the trees and sky representing the season.