John D. Gira Jr.
Highest Military RankSP3
Tomb DatesSep 1955 - Sep 1956
John David Gira, 86, of Harrisonburg, Va., passed away on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at home in the care of his loving family and an amazing nursing staff. He was born April 15, 1933 in Yonkers, NY to immigrant parents from Slovakia.
In youth, John developed a lifelong interest in basketball, culminating in a coaching career of notable success. His teams and players remained close to him throughout his life, which he valued immensely. John served in the US Armed Forces and was awarded the prestigious position of Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown in Arlington, Va., in which he took great pride.
John was a devoted husband to his wife, Ruth, father to three children: John, Jan and Gina Deese, their spouses, Inna Gira, and Prince Deese, grandfather to five and great grandfather to four, all who survive. He will be deeply missed and loved forever.
All services will be private and provided by Lindsey Funeral Home in Harrisonburg. Condolences may be sent to www.lindseyharrisonburg.com.
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Did you know?
Has anyone ever tried to get past the Tomb guards, or attempted to deface the Tomb?
Yes, that is the reason why we now guard the Tomb. Back in the early 1920's, we didn't have guards and the Tomb looked much different. It was flat at ground level without the 70 ton marble 'cap'. People often came to the cemetery in those days and a few actually used the Tomb as a picnic area, likely because of the view. Soon after in 1925, they posted a civilian guard. In 1926, a US Army soldier was posted during cemetery hours. On July 1, 1937 guard duty was expanded to the 24 hour watch. Since then, the ceremony has evolved throughout the years to what you see today. Today, most of the challenges faced by the Sentinels are tourists who are speaking too loudly or attempting to get a better picture (by entering the post).