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"An ode to excellence. An inspiring read for every American." —Robert M. Gates
An extraordinary journey behind the scenes of Arlington National Cemetery, Senator Tom Cotton’s Sacred Duty offers an intimate and inspiring portrait of “The Old Guard,” the revered U.S. Army unit whose mission is to honor our country’s fallen heroes on the most hallowed ground in America.
Cotton was a platoon leader with the storied 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment—The Old Guard—between combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the height of the Iraq Surge, he carried the flag-draped remains of his fallen comrades off of airplanes at Dover Air Force Base, and he laid them to rest in Arlington’s famed Section 60, “the saddest acre in America.” He also performed hundreds of funerals for veterans of the Greatest Generation, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
The Old Guard has embodied the ideals of honor and sacrifice across our nation’s history. America’s oldest active-duty regiment, dating back to 1784, The Old Guard conducts daily military-honor funerals on the 624 rolling acres of Arlington, where generations of American heroes rest. Its soldiers hold themselves to the standard of perfection in sweltering heat, frigid cold, and driving rain. Every funeral is a no-fail, zero-defect mission, whether honoring a legendary general or a humble private.
In researching and writing the book, Cotton returned to Arlington and shadowed the regiment’s soldiers, from daily funerals to the state funeral of President George H. W. Bush to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, reliving the honor—and the challenges—of duty at the nation’s “most sacred shrine.”
Part history of The Old Guard, part memoir of Cotton’s time at Arlington, part intimate profile of the today’s soldiers, Sacred Duty is an unforgettable testament to the timeless power of service and sacrifice to our nation.
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About the Author
Tom Cotton is a United States Senator from Arkansas. He served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division and in Afghanistan with a Provincial Reconstruction Team. Between combat tours, he served with the United States Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”) at Arlington National Cemetery. His military decorations include the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Ranger Tab. He served one term in the House of Representatives before election to the Senate. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Tom is married to Anna and they have two sons, Gabriel and Daniel.
Table of Contents
Map: Arlington National Cemetery viii
Prologue: America's Regiment 1
Chapter 1 Coming Home 11
Chapter 2 America's First Defenders 47
Chapter 3 "Honor, Values, and Tradition" 106
Chapter 4 Inside Arlington with The Old Guard 139
Chapter 5 Standing on Ceremony 173
Chapter 6 The Unknowns 212
Epilogue: "The Old Guard Never Stops" 275
Notes on Sources 287
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I am not much for history or biography books but this is a book everyone who lives in the US should read. The honor and dedication that the Military gives to our fallen is tremendous and makes me proud to be an American. The book is weaves stories into the tradition and history in a way that makes the reader feel, understand and appreciate the service of our military families. Be ready for tears because they come easily!
Senator Cotton's book is very well written. It is most touching with the insights he gives about U.S. History, the military in general, the ARMY, and very specifically Arlington National Cemetery. If you have ever been at Arlington during the changing of the guard, you will want to read this book. If you are an American history buff, you'll want to read this book. I could hardly put it down until I finished it. It is that good.