General Question

JackAdams's avatar

Would YOU have fired your rifle?

Asked by JackAdams (6479points) September 25th, 2008

This question is based on a real incident that I witnessed in the 1960s, when my mother and I were at The Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery, to witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony.

While there, a female toddler probably 3 – 5 years of age, wandered under the velvet rope, toward The Sarcophagus. The Sentinel on duty aimed his rifle at her (as his orders stated) and yelled, “I ORDER YOU TO HALT!” Fortunately, the little girl’s father reached over the rope, grabbed his daughter by her hair, and dragged her back to the proper side of the rope, and the Sentinel lowered his weapon and resumed his cadence, as if nothing had happened.

I was told that, had the little girl gotten too close to the monumnet, that she would have been shot, as the instructions given those guards are absolute and inviolate, and are not age restrictive, even if the sentinel knows that the person is really a toddler.

A USAF buddy told me, “Yes, he would have fired at her; those are his orders.”

Would YOU have fired, if she had gotten, “too close?”

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14 Answers

cwilbur's avatar

I doubt I would have qualified for the sentinel position in the first place.

AstroChuck's avatar

I couldn’t even if I had wanted to as I have no rifle. For I am an enigma, an unarmed mailman.

deaddolly's avatar

Uh, no. There are certain times when rules go out the window and common sense take over. If this were another time and it was Viet Nam…maybe…but not then and in the US.

Nimis's avatar

No, I would have grabbed her by her hair myself.
She’s a toddler for Christ’s sake.
Is a rifle really necessary?

EmpressPixie's avatar

I wouldn’t have been there, but even if I were… I couldn’t shoot a kid. Even full knowing that there are kiddo suicide bombers (by choice or not is another issue), I wouldn’t shoot a kid.

JackAdams's avatar

What bothers me, is that any of those Sentinels would.

“Orders are orders, and you don’t question them; you blindly obey them.”

EnzoX24's avatar

And now you see how Hitler rose to power so easily.

That is no joke.

Nimis's avatar

What if they had put up an electrical fence with a clear sign that said:
If you pass this line, you will die?

Would you blame the people who put up the electrical fence?
Would you blame the people who just put up a velvet rope?
Or would you blame the father?

richardhenry's avatar

What if she had a BOMB?

Seriously though, no, I wouldn’t have done. I probably would have aimed the rifle though, to remind the father how serious the whole situation is. Maybe that’s what he was doing? (Besides, he doesn’t wanna get discharged.)

Shooting a kid would be dumb.

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

I don’t know if this is true or not, but I once heard of a soldier that was present at the My Lai massacre, but refused to carry out the orders given. Instead, he shot himself in the foot so that he had to be medevacced out. I’d like to think I’d be brave enough to do something similar in the scenario, but I guess I’ll never really know until I am in that scenario.

Nimis's avatar

MrM: Hahaha…that would have been funny if the sentinel had shot his foot.

JackAdams's avatar

In South Vietnam, Vietnamese kids were routinely shot and killed by Allied Forces, because in many cases, those “innocent kids” were armed with guns, knives and hand grenades, and were very well trained in their proper use.

Nimis's avatar

I think war makes them not kids in anymore. =(

augustlan's avatar

No way, no how.

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