It’s unfortunate that some zealous and yet so very uninformed veterans and even civilians feel they need to chastise someone for the way they are rendering honors during a veteran’s funeral. I received a question from a veteran regarding the procedures he follows- training he received while in the Army- at veteran funerals while he is there as a member of a veteran/civilian group that forms a “wall” of people.
Thank you for your response to my email.
There is an ongoing disagreement of holding the American Colors in the right or left hand at parade rest. I gave up on this issue as I know right hand is correct.
When the hearse and family vehicles approach, I come to attention, raising the American colors to the center of my chest/body with right hand over left [on the flagstaff]. After they or the procession pass, I recover to attention and then parade rest position with the American Colors at my side .
I often stand away from the funeral or memorial service out of respect for the family. When the Honor Guard is called to attention as the veteran is removed and carried to the grave site, I again come to attention, “present arms” and follow the commands of the Honor Guard.
During the firing of the volley and taps, the Honor Guard remains at present arms and then recovers, finally leaving the burial site, at which time I also march off to my vehicle, colors at my side.
Much as the rifle is held for present arms, I hold the staff with the American Colors. The [veteran group] stands at attention or some form of attention but will not raise the American Colors to a fallen veteran.
I am not in uniform, just a veteran showing final respects to another fallen veteran. I do not want recognition or credit for anything I do but am growing tired of the criticism of those who sit on the sidelines and do little or nothing. My intentions are respect!
I could not find an answer to my question in the flag code and also searched the DOD and Army manuals looking for an answer. I’m looking to you as an expert for guidance.
Dear Mr. B.
I have attached a letter to this email in PDF format that will explain that you are actually doing the proper thing and showing respect.
To whom it may concern,
By bringing his American flag that is on a pole up to the center of his body, Mr. John B. is executing the move that is called Right Shoulder- for a color/flag. This move is perfectly acceptable and appropriate for any occasion and is most appreciated by knowledgeable military veterans when a deceased veteran’s coach and family pass by.
With or without a colors harness, this position helps show respect for a fallen comrade. I have included pictures from my book, The Honor Guard Manual, for clarification:
The Position of Attention with a Color
The Position of Right Shoulder with a Color
The Position of Stand at Ease and Parade Rest with a Color
I don’t know why these pictures will not render at the same size, apologies.
I hope this clears up any misconception that anyone may have about the intentions and also the procedures that Mr. B. follows.
If I can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to call or email.