The Men and Women Who Guard the Constitution

Since 1952, the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights have been on display in the Rotunda of the National Archives. In addition to the bulletproof and moisture-controlled sealed cases, the Charters of Freedom are protected by the National Archives security guards.

Hundreds of people filter in and out of the Rotunda every day to see the Charters of Freedom, but the guards never leave their posts. The men and women who make up the National Archives security force guard our nation’s most important documents.

We wanted to put names to  the faces of these important people for #MuseumWeek! Hailey Philbin, an intern in the National Archives History Office, spoke to two of our officers.

Two security guards are always standing watch over our founding documents. (Photo by Jeff Reed for the National Archives.)

Lt. Bryant Bethes has worked as a National Archives security guard for 17 years. In addition to daily protecting the Charters of Freedom, he enjoys the crowds and diverse individuals who visit his work space. The most exciting part about his job is when celebrities, like Joe Montana, take a tour of the Rotunda. After almost two decades at his post, Lieutenant Bethes finds time to enjoy his job and interact with new crowds every day.

Officer Laurence E. Robinson has held his post in the Rotunda for seven years. He enjoys communicating with the many different people that visit the National Archives. Although it is not a requirement of his job, Officer Robinson shares his knowledge of the Charters of Freedom with inquiring guests. He answers questions about the documents when he can and helps visitors to better understand the history that he is protecting.

Thank you to all of our officers for their hard work and dedication!

15 thoughts on “The Men and Women Who Guard the Constitution

  1. The rotunda guards have always been nice when I visit. Many years ago I was in DC in the late summer, probably for a conference, and stopped by the National Archives. At the time there was a set of military guards in the rotunda. It was fascinating to watch the ceremony when the guards changed. I doubt it happens everyday. Could that have been on Constitution Day?

  2. I just watched a video of the 2/14 attack by two climate activists on our Constitution. The response of three guards supposedly protecting was unbelievable: One walked away after the activists turned around to state their manifesto, another guard kept leaning against the wall simply watching what was occurring and the third watched the two speak, and finally spoke on her radio to I assume call for help. When help arrived there was little action by the armed guard. Although the Constitution and our other founding documents are encased in protective glass it remains very disappointing and concerning that those charged with guarding these documents do little or nothing in actively responding to an attack on nation’s founding documents.

    1. I, too, share your sentiments on this matter. I watched the news video in utter shock at the lack of response by the guards. Do we no longer have enough national pride left to take immediate action to protect our most valuable documents? It was truly unbelievable and painful to watch.

  3. On 14 February 2024, the security guards did nothing but stand around before, during and after the Constitution was attacked with pink powder.


  4. Guessing the security guards working for the national archives don’t have to swear to support and defend the constitution.

  5. I was a city cop for 38 years. Those security guards that did nothing at all should have immediately taken those two idiots to the floor and cuffed them both.
    I think they did not want to get their white shirts pink.
    Hire DC Cops as a detail instead of those mall cops.

  6. Put Marines guards on the Constitution instead of those fools who stood there looking like they don’t give a damn. Give me a break. fire them. How many men and women have given their lives protecting the Constitution?

  7. Not protective near well enough, I agree that the military should be involved if the tomb of the unknown soldier can be guarded so sacredly than so should the constitution of our United States that they are bet doing their best to use as toilet paper

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