This year, we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the interment ceremony of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That soldier was a veteran of WWI. Also entombed is a veteran of WWII and the Korean War.
The guards for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are based out of Ft. Myer Army base in Virginia and is home to the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as The Old Guard. The Old Guard is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving our nation since 1784. Former sergeant, Andre Beasley, is one of the sentinels who served at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with Badge #502. There have been less than 700 badges awarded to tomb guards, making this an elite fraternity within The Old Guard.
There are several specialty platoons serving with The Old Guard, which includes: Caisson Platoon, Continental Color Guard, Fife and Drum Corps, Presidential Salute Battery, the U.S. Army Drill Team and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Selection for The Old Guard is a high honor. Tomb Guards are handpicked, rigorously trained and serve with privilege as part of an unbroken chain of soldiers dating back to March 25, 1926. Andre L. Beasley Sr. is one of these soldiers. His route to The Old Guard was not a clear path. Beasley grew up in Ft. Wayne and after graduating from Wayne High School, he realized he needed a reset.
“My life was not heading in a productive direction,” states Beasley, who recently spoke to the Caroline Scott Harrison Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. “The Army provided me with the discipline that I was needing in my life.”
Initially, Beasley was going to become an Army Ranger and Airborne, then the topic of The Old Guard came up. Beasley agreed if and only if he could guard The Tomb.
“There’s something very special about the Tomb of the Unknowns, states Beasley, who served in the Army for six years with the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment. “It is hallowed ground and we set the gold standard for discipline and the pinnacle for dress code.”
The guards of the Tomb of the Unknown are meticulous in detail, inspections within their regimen are notoriously the toughest. The attention to detail is by design. They are guarding a sacred tomb of four unknown soldiers, and represent the reverence, patriotism and respect that families find comforting when they visit the tomb, especially when they have lost a family member and wish to pay their respects. Strong bonds are formed through the extremely demanding and humbling experience of guarding The Tomb of the Unknown.
“Those men enshrined at the tomb represent every lost loved one who has made the ultimate sacrifice. That’s why we do what we do — we don’t want to forget,” says Beasley, who served as a guard for three years during his six spent in active duty. “The general public should understand this price of freedom. It’s important to speak with your children, and their children.”
After serving with The Old Guard at The Tomb for three years, Beasley was deployed to Iraq for Operation: Iraqi Freedom 3. After serving our country for six years, Beasley returned home to Ft. Wayne, where he lives with his family.
Beasley is an instructional designer for Purdue University and is the founder and CEO of Academic Success Guide, an organization that provide tutors and instructional designers to schools. To date they have served over 250+ students in Allen County. Beasley holds two master’s degrees, one MBA in sustainability and another in education. In addition, years after being honorably discharged from the Army Beasley’s new mission is educating the public on The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
“Today, patriotism is associated with a political party but we are a diverse people who
fight for our freedom,” says Beasley, who joined The Society for the Tomb of the Unknown Solider in 2018. The society is a nonprofit organization run by former tomb guards. “What I appreciated most is that those individuals who are enshrined were just like me, only they didn’t make it home. Their families didn’t get to see them one last time, but the tomb is a place where families can come and reflect and have peace. We [as guards] need be that symbol of respect to those who lost loved ones.”
To learn more, please visit: tombguard.org.