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A relief commander inspects all aspects of the rifle during a Changing of the Guard ritual at Arlington National Cemetery in June.
A relief commander inspects all aspects of the rifle during a Changing of the Guard ritual at Arlington National Cemetery in June. (Meredith Tibbetts/Stars and Stripes)

ARLINGTON - Changing of the Guard takes place every hour or half hour - depending on the season - at Arlington National Cemetery in a precise ritual that draws many tourists.

Twenty-one is an important number when it comes to Changing of the Guard. It's the number of steps the Tomb Guard marches down the black mat. Its the amount of seconds he faces east and then faces north. According to the Arlington National Cemetery website, 21 was chosen because it "symbolizes the highest military honor that can be bestowed - the 21-gun salute."

Email: tibbetts.meredith@stripes.com

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