Exclusive — Sen. Tom Cotton on Serving at Arlington Cemetery: If They Sacrificed Their Lives, We Can Sacrifice Time and Comfort for Them

A soldier from the 3rd US Infantry Regiment, the "Old Guard", places a US flag at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia on May 27, 2021. - The "Flags In" tradition takes place ahead of Memorial Day which honors service members who died …
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) recalled his service in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard, while reflecting on the sacrifice of those who died in America’s armed forces ahead of Memorial Day.

Cotton, U.S. Army veteran who served tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq, described the attention to detail involved in the Old Guard’s ceremonial mission of receiving remains of fallen soldiers returned to America and of funerals at Arlington National Cemetery.

“We have rulers that are measured down to 1/64th of an inch, which is the standard for most decorations and badges on an Old Guard soldier’s uniform,” Cotton said on Thursday’s edition of SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Daily with host Alex Marlow.

He continued, “That level of discipline and precision and high standards is a reflection of the care that we have for those fallen heroes, and that if they sacrificed their lives for our nation, then surely we can sacrifice a little comfort, a little time to make sure that everything is perfect for them.”

Cotton observed the precision of the Old Guard’s ceremonial changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

 

I once asked a tomb guard, who have even higher standards, because they have different kinds of elements of their uniform and more things to do with their uniform, “What’s the point of this?” A lot of people would say, “Why bother? No one is even going to be here when the cemetery opens today. You won’t have crowds for a little while longer, or certainly not here after hours. Who would know if you went out there with a deficient uniform item?”

He just cocked his head towards the tomb and he said, “He would know,” and I think that really reflects the level of duty and dedication that these young soldiers have towards their mission.

“One of my first drill sergeants taught us that the deficiency you walk by is the standard you accept,” Cotton stated. “If you tolerate a deficiency — whether it’s in your own office and the people that work for me and serve Arkansans, or whether it’s in our federal bureaucracy — if you’re willing to tolerate or look past a deficiency, that is the new standard you set.”

He concluded, “That’s what one reason why I always try to hold the government officials’ feet to the fire when I think something’s gone wrong. I’m not saying they’ve done something wrong in terms of being negligent or even malevolent, but if we tolerate those kind of lapses, then we’re going to encourage them in the future.”

Cotton is the author of Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery.

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