Texas Highway Patrol Major Bryan Rippee said that his nearly three years serving as a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery that made him the person he is today.
Which is why he’s trying to bring the new documentary “The Unknowns” to Alamo Drafthouse in Lubbock. The documentary is made by former tomb guards about the tomb guards at Arlington National Cemetery.
If you’d like to sign up, Rippee needs at least 68 more people to register for the June 29 screening in Lubbock in order for the showing to happen.
Rippee explained that he not only is looking to share the film to help out his fellow former tomb guards, he also thinks that many people don’t know about the detail and rigor that goes into being a tomb guard.
“I think there’s no greater pinnacle of showing respect to our fallen heroes than the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the soldiers who guard the tomb and the standards and the work they put into it,” he said.
There is a great deal of work that goes into becoming a soldier at the tomb in Arlington, the Society of the Honor Guard states that most of the people who begin the Tomb Guard Training end up failing.
Rippee added that many people don’t realize that tomb guards are working to protect the unknown soldiers at the cemetery, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year– regardless of weather. He said that while a typical tomb guard shift is 24 hours, when you factor in time preparing and waiting to be relieved, the day can stretch closer to 26 hours.
In the 1990’s Rippee worked his way up and passed the testing to become a tomb guard. He went on to earn the prestigious Tomb Guard Identification Badge. While he was able to have a front row seat to history in that position, there was also a tremendous amount of work and responsibility for Rippee and his fellow guards.
“We live there, we eat there, we work there, throughout the day we maintain our uniforms, the heat will actually melt the polish off of our shoes throughout in the summer and throughout the day we’re continuously polishing our shoes,” he said. “The sweat will actually kind of wash off the pleats in our uniform so we press the uniform throughout the day, so when you’re there you’re very actively engaged in maintaining that standard of perfection for the tomb for the unknown soldiers.”
Rippee thinks it’s important to share the film, not just to show the lives of the tomb guards, but also to spread awareness about the unknown individuals who are protected by the guards.
“Not only did they serve their country, not only did they sacrifice and were killed in combat, they sacrificed their identities,” he explained of the unknown soldiers.
Rippee hopes the film is able to air in Lubbock, it would give the region an unprecedented look at the life and purpose of some of the service members who aim for perfection in honoring the fallen.
“What’s good about this documentary is [the filmmakers] are former tomb guards and they were in the Army and they were granted access to places no one else gets access to,” Rippee explained. “So they really had an opportunity to follow the soldiers as they go through this training evolution, and these training cycles and show what it really takes– and the dedication to be a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier that people don’t typically get to see”