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Our Color guard is an important part of our troop life— below are our Flag Ceremonies for posting and retiring the colors at a troop meeting or other gathering.

Purpose

Honoring our flag is an essential ceremony at Trail Life USA gatherings: it shows respect for our great nation and for the men and women who have sacrificed their lives to preserve our liberty.

Trail Life USA and American Heritage Girls (AHG) have collaborated to standardize independent or combined Trail Life USA and AHG troop flag ceremonies.

History

“Flags are almost as old as civilization itself. Imperial Egypt as well as the armies of Babylon, Chaldea, and Assyria followed the colors of their kings. The Old Testament frequently mentions banners and standards. Many flags of different designs were present in parts of the American colonies before the Revolution. When the struggle for independence united the colonies, the colonists wanted a single flag to represent the new nation. The first flag borne by the Army as a representative of the 13 colonies was the Grand Union flag. It was raised over the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 2 January 1776. That flag had the familiar 13 stripes (red and white) of the present flag, but the blue square contained the Crosses of St. George and St. Andrew from the British flag.

The Stars and Stripes was born on 14 June 1777. On that date, Congress resolved that the flag of the United States be 13 stripes, alternate red and white, and that the union be 13 stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”[1]

 

The Color and Colors

“The National and organizational flags carried by Color-bearing units are called the National Color and the organizational Color. When used singularly, the term Color implies the National Color. The plural term Colors means the national and positional or organizational Colors.”[2]

 

Standard Elements of Flag Ceremonies

A flag ceremony may be done in any manner, as long as it is done in good taste and follows proper Colors etiquette. It may include as many Trailmen as needed.

When to greet the National Color (by salute or hand over heart):

  • You see it raised or lowered
  • You pass it or it passes you
  • When reciting the Pledge of Allegiance
  • During the National Anthem

 

FLAG BEARER:The person who carries the Colors, one flag per person. Carry the Colors on the right side in right hand, keeping the staff vertical and the flag aloft and flying free. Never dip the National Color for anything or anyone.

COLOR GUARD:They guard the honor of the Colors and watch to see that the Colors do not touch the ground. They stand behind the flag bearer. One per flag is traditional.

CALLER: The caller is the designated Trailman who “calls out” the parts of the ceremony. The caller stands in front of the audience and troop.  (For combined Trail Life USA and AHG ceremonies, either an American Heritage Girl or Trailman may serve as the primary caller with the assistant being from the other organization.  They may stand together and call out their respective Oaths and Creed.)

 

TROOP MEETINGS

Posting the Colors

Primary Caller:

“Color Guard, ATTENTION.”(Flag bearers stand abreast with the U.S. flag bearer on the right.  The color guards form abreast and behind the flag bearers.  In a combined Trail Life USA and AHG ceremony, the AHG flag bearer stands between the U.S. flag and Trail Life USA flag bearers. )

“Troop(s), ATTENTION.”

“Troop(s), SALUTE.”

“Audience, please rise. Those not in uniform, please place your right hand over your heart.  Please remove your hats.”

“Color Guard, Forward, MARCH.”(Wait until the Colors guard reaches the front position before giving the next command.)

“Color Guard, HALT.”

“Color Guard, ADVANCE THE COLORS.”(The U.S. flag bearer crosses from the right side of the aisle to the leftmost flag stand, and faces the audience.  Immediately after the U.S. flag passes the Troop flag bearer(s), the Troop flag(s) crosses from the left side of the aisle to the rightmost flag stand(s), and faces the audience.  The Color guards follow the flag they are guarding and come to attention at the outside of the flag bearers, and facing the audience.)

“Prepare to post the Colors!”(The flag bearers hover the flagpoles over the hole in the flag stands and waits for the command to post the colors.)

“POST THE COLORS.”(Both (or all) flags should be placed in the stands at the same time.  There should be one thump.  Immediately, the flag bearers grasp the flags with both hands and pulls flag out to both sides of the pole to display the flag for a silent count of about three seconds and then the flag bearers come back to the position of attention.)

“Color Guard, SALUTE.”(Color Guard holds salute until the Pledge is done.)

“Please recite the Pledge of Allegiance.”

“Ready, TWO.”(All salutes are dropped.)

“Trail Life USA SIGN.”

“Please join us in reciting the Trail Life USA Oath.”

“Ready, TWO.”(Trail Life USA sign is dropped.)

“Color Guard, REFORM.”(The Colors bearers step out and the Color guards follow them as they march back to the front position.)

“Color Guard, Forward, MARCH.”

“Color Guard, HALT.”

“Please join in prayer….”

“Color Guard, DISMISSED. Troop(s), AT EASE.”

“Audience, please be seated.”

 

Retiring the Colors

Caller:

“Color Guard, ATTENTION. Troop(s), ATTENTION.”

“Audience, please rise for the retiring of the Colors.”

“Color Guard, Forward, MARCH.”(Wait until the Colors guard reaches the front position before giving the next command.)

“Color Guard, HALT.”

“Color Guard, ADVANCE.”(U.S. Flag bearer crosses from the right side of the aisle to the leftmost flag stand, and faces the audience. Immediately after the U.S. flag bearer passes the Troop flag bearer(s), the Troop flag bearer(s) crosses from the left side of the aisle to the rightmost flag stand(s), and faces the audience. The U.S. flag Color guard crosses from the right side of the aisle to the outside of the U.S. flag bearer, and the Troop flag Color guard crosses from the left side of the aisle to the outside of the Troop flag bearer. Both Color guards face the audience.)

“Color Guard, SALUTE.”(The Color Guard renders honors to the Colors.)

“Color Guard, Ready, TWO.”

“Color Guard, Prepare to Retire the Colors.”(Flag bearers take hold of their flags with their hand in correct position for carrying the flags, and waits for the next command.)

“RETIRE THE COLORS.”(Both (or all) flags should be pulled out of the flag stands and brought up immediately, in a smooth motion, to the carry position.)

“Troop(s), SALUTE.”

“Those not in uniform, please place your right hand over your heart. Please remove your hats.”

“Color Guard, REFORM.”(Flag bearers should always turn to their left when turning around in order for the U.S. Flag to always be on its own right. Wait for Color guard to return to formation at the front position.)

“Color Guard, Forward, MARCH.”(Flag bearers step out and the Color guards follows behind as they march to the rear of the audience.)

“Color Guard, HALT.”

“Troop(s), TWO.” (All salutes are dropped.)

“Please bow your heads and join in prayer….”

“Color Guard, DISMISSED.”(No Commands are given, but the flags should immediately be secured and placed back in storage, whether they are rolled on the poles or removed from the poles and folded.)

“Audience, thank you for joining us.”

Resources

[1]U.S. Army FM 3-21.5 Drill and Ceremonies w-Change 1, 15-1

[2]15-2

See the U.S. Army field manual FM 3-21.5 Drill and Ceremonies w-Change 1 at www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/FM_3-21.5_Drill_and_Ceremonies.pdf.