Reciting the Pledge with a Colors Presentation

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At ceremonies across the country, many local municipalities request a color team from military installations or even first responders. Quite often, music is not available so those gathered recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Color Guards: In all of the research I’ve accomplished, I cannot find any specific guidance for restricting/requiring a color guard to dip it’s colors for the Pledge of Allegiance. That being said, there are guidelines for departmental colors from each service’s drill and ceremonies, flag, or protocol manuals: departmental colors only dip for the National Anthem, service secretary, and CoS/Cmndnt or higher-ranked individual.

This means Active, Guard, and Reserve military teams do not dip, but the rifles go to Present. The Pledge isn’t a military salute to the flag, per se, but an announcement of one’s faithfulness to the flag and the nation, and since it is about the flag, she deserves Present Arms from the rifle guards because when outdoors and the Pledge is recited, all military render the hand salute.

Please read All About the Color Guard.

The Question: Does this apply to first responders (who usually carry their state flag as second) and cadets (who carry their program flag as second)? Flags should dip when the crowd recites the Pledge. You are not in the military – but for cadet organizations that represent a military service, this does raise a good question. For now, I suggest dipping.

For Individuals: indoors, all military in uniform stand at Attention and face th

e flag (reciting the Pledge is optional when with a large civilian group*). Outdoors, render the hand salute. When out of uniform, members of the military and veterans stand at Attention or may now salute the flag. Cadets will always recite the Pledge.

*Reason being is that we in the US military took an Oath of Enlistment or Oath of a Commissioned Officer. This oath never expires. We not only pledge our allegiance, but our lives. When in a large group of civilians, it would probably be better to recite the Pledge rather than explain ten times to different people why you stood in silence at Attention.

LE Colors from nba-com

Here is how to do it:

  1. The announcer says something like, “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the presentation [or posting*] of the colors.”
  2. Color team enters as usual and stops centered in front of the audience.
  3. The commander of the color team gives the loud command, “Present, ARMS!”
    1. If the team is military, do not dip your service color for the Pledge, it is only dipped for the National Anthem.
    2. State and other colors dip.
    3. Guards execute Present.
  4. The announcer or a designated person steps up to the microphone and says something like, “Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I pledge…”
  5. The commander of the color team gives the command, “Port, ARMS!” and the color team [posts the colors and then] departs.

*Only post the colors for more ceremonial occasions.

 

That is it. Color team commanders, please do not order the audience to begin, it is not your place.

 

The Honor and Sword/Saber Cordons

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The Cordon

  • Comprised of two squads facing each other.
  • Spacing between members of each squad is usually an arm’s distance.
  • Spacing between each squad of the cordon is a safe enough distance for the VIP to pass in between the squads*.
  • The number of members in each squad depends on the type of cordon.
  • The commander positions centered, behind one squad of the cordon or at the end where the VIP will enter.

*You must ensure that if the VIP(s) will walk through in twos, side-by-side, there is enough space to safely do so.

Members of a cordon are sometimes unarmed, armed with rifles, or armed with a sword or saber. When armed with a sword or saber, there are specific commands and techniques that are used for each service. The cordon members form what is commonly called the “Arch of Steel” for VIPs and the bride and groom to walk through.

Note: in a joint service situation, where cordon members are from different military branches, the senior service technique is followed, no exceptions. Click here to read about Joint Service Order. Here is an example of cordon precedence for military and first responders.

Arrival Honor Cordon

Dress rehearsal for an arrival ceremony honor cordon on Kadena Air Base flight line

The Honor Cordon

Performed with unarmed (in a church, for example), with rifles, but never with swords or sabers (a properly executed sword salute presents a tripping hazard for the VIPs.

This cordon recognizes VIPs for an arrival or departure ceremony. An official cordon performed by members of the US military must follow the the size requirements outlined by the DoD:

  • POTUS/Former POTUS, 21 members
  • VP, SecDef, Service Secretaries, Chair of JCoS, Chiefs of Staff and Cmndnts of MC & CG, 19 members
  • 4-Star General/Admiral, 17 members
  • 3-Star General/Admiral, 15 members
  • 2-Star General/Admiral, 13 members
  • 1-Star General/Admiral, 11 members

The odd number is in line with the gun salute for the dignitary and represents an even number of cordon members with a commander.

Similarly for first responders and others at the state, county, and city level, honor cordons could be created with a team compliment of nine. The following paragraph is a quote from the November 2016 memorandum on Revised DoD Order of Precedence:

“When dealing with the United States precedence, there are several general rules which always hold true and which may differ from what one would assume the order of precedence to be. First, no one outranks a governor in his own state except the President or Vice President of the United States. Secondly, no one outranks a mayor in his own city or town or the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors in his own county except the Governor of the state or the President or Vice President of the United States.”

In the image above, you have an example of an arrival at a building. Note that there is not only a cordon, but four door openers. The door openers at the building are in line with the cordon- this may mean that they have to take a large step forward in order to grasp the handle, come to Attention in line with the armed cordon members, and render the hand salute. Note: the door opener with only his left hand free, does not salute. Click here to read about saluting and the left-hand salute.

Waite,Richard

The Navy’s Side Boys

The custom of using Side Boys, the shipboard honor cordon, to welcome a visiting dignitary or officer aboard a military vessel had a real purpose at one time. Side Boys are two, four, six, or eight Marines and/or Sailors lining both sides of the gangplank or on the quarterdeck in a ceremony now known as Tending the Side. The number of in the cordon is based on the rank of the officer visiting the vessel: two members for ensigns and LTs, up to eight members for admirals.

This system originally served a utilitarian purpose in the British Navy as early as the 17th century. Back then, men did not have the luxury of walking onto their ships: most had to transfer from a small boat to the larger ship by ladder, or by a device called a Boatswain’s Chair, which was essentially a seat attached to a yardarm by a block and tackle.

Here is where the relevance of increasing numbers in the cordon comes in: the younger and less rank you had, most likely, the lighter you were. Thus, a light midshipman or LT needed only two men on the haul rope, while an often very stout Admiral, with a forty-year career, tended to need eight men to pull them up.

Additional jobs, such as steadying the officer after getting them to the deck, and helping with the officer’s luggage, also necessitated a required number of hands.

Firefighters

This is an excellent opportunity to use the 5-foot ceremonial pike pole!

 

 

The Sequence of Events

Dress Center- looking for the marks to obtain visual alignment

The cordon forms up (tallest toward the VIP’s entrance) well before ceremony and performs at least one dry run, is then dismissed to change into the ceremonial uniform. At least ten minutes before the ceremony:

  1. Cordon forms up and marches at Port to its marks.
  2. Once at the site, the cordon members pick up an automatic Mark Time.
  3. The commander gives Cordon, HALT; Center FACE; Dress Center, DRESS; Ready, TWO; Ready, FRONT:* and Stand at, EASE (or Parade, REST).
  4. The commander should remain at Attention and, when the VIP arrives, give, Cordon, ATTENTION; Present, ARMS.
  5. After the VIP passes through completely, the commander gives, Order, ARMS; Ready, FACE (face toward departure direction), Port, ARMS; Forward, MARCH. The team then marches off to their transportation.

*Guidance for the dressing sequence (accomplished visually):

  1. Dress Center, DRESS– All heads drop so that all members reposition to their marks. If no literal marks, squad members will align their feet directly across from each other using the squad on the marching right (before the Center, FACE) as the guide.
  2. Ready, TWO– All member’s heads snap to the direction from which the VIPs enter the cordon or, if there is a structure that can be sued for alignment (e.g. a door frame) you can also dress to that. Here, all members ensure that their shoulders are aligned be only moving front/backward.
  3. Ready, FRONT– All heads snap back to Attention.

The Sword/Saber Cordon (Swords/Sabers)

The standard compliment for this cordon in nine members; eight with swords/sabers and one to command. Location logistics and manning may play a part in how many are actually in the cordon. The minimum would be four.

The sword/saber is an extension of the right arm and should not take another angle from the arm’s 45-degree angle from the ground. When using a saber (sabers are curved, swords are straight), the curve and sharper side of the blade face up. Swords/sabers do not necessarily have to cross each other to form an “X”. Remember, the squads should be far enough away from each other to allow the VIPs to pass through comfortably, which means the sword tips might look as though they meet when viewed from the front or rear of the formation.

Welcoming the bride. There are two different traditions for the Arch of Steel:

  1. If the cordon is in the chapel, as soon as the bride and groom turn around the first two swords are lowered and the couple kisses, and the swords are raised allowing the couple to proceed through the cordon. This is repeated for each set of swords and can take a considerable amount of time.
  2. Only the last two swords are lowered and the couple is in the middle of both swords, they kiss, the bride receives the “Welcome”, and the swords are then raised. Can save quite a bit of time

The “Welcome” comes when the couple has passed through the cordon as described above. The bride and groom stop just past the last two cordon members and the member closest to the bride taps her on her backside and says, “Welcome to the [insert service]!”, and assumes Attention.

Army/Air Force Technique

Only NCOs and officers may perform this ceremony, junior enlisted are not authorized. The sword/saber is not worn, no belts, only carried.

  1. Cordon forms up and marches to its marks.
  2. Once at the site, the cordon members pick up an automatic Mark Time.
  3. The commander gives Cordon, HALT; Center FACE; Dress Center, DRESS; Ready, TWO; Ready, FRONT:* and Stand at, EASE (or Parade, REST).
  4. The commander should remain at Attention and, when the VIPs/bride and groom arrive, give, Cordon, ATTENTION; Form, ARCH.
  5. After the VIPs/bride and groom pass through completely, the commander gives, Order, ARCH; Ready, FACE (face toward departure direction), Port, ARMS; Forward, MARCH, Halt; Dismissed.

Attention (Order, ARCH) and two views of Form, ARCH

Please note: no other position is authorized except what is pictured here, above. The sword/saber cordon does not use the standard manual of arms.

Marine Corps/Navy/Coast Guard Technique

Only NCOs and officers may perform this ceremony, junior enlisted are not authorized.

Navy/Coast Guard:

Can use the Army/AF sequence above, or the Marine sequence below.

Marines: Are required to be rigged per MCO 5060.2.

  1. Enter at Order (sword in the scabbard).
  2. March into place and align.
  3. At moment required to form the Arch, give Attention; Draw, SWORD (at this point, DO NOT return the sword to Carry at the side, leave it pointed up at a 45-degree angle with the arm fully extended).
  4. When the VIP is through the cordon or after welcoming the bride and all have cleared the cordon, the commander gives, Return, SWORD; Ready, FACE, Forward, MARCH; exit at Order (sword in the scabbard)
  5. Halt; Dismissed.

What is “Color Guard Exhibition Drill”?

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So what exactly is is “Color Guard Exhibition Drill (XD)”?

In a nutshell, it is disrespect to the American Flag. There is absolutely no way that a color team should ever execute any kind of movement other than what is described in their service manual. Period. Rifle spins, fancy steps, even creating some sort of “beat” when performing Sling Arms/Tighten Slings (I saw it while I attended a competition in Germany) should never be accomplished. Again, period. I even find the half-step-stomp and yelling out cadence for color teams unprofessional.

I am all for thinking “outside the box” when it comes to XD for soloists and drill teams and I even created the World Drill Association’s Open Color Team and Open Regulation Drill where teams create their own sequences to use the drill pad and time most effectively- this brings Composition Analysis into Regulation Drill. However, these Open phases for the WDA are only for rearranging regulation drill commands and moves. In no way should it be interpreted that this means there is a free-for-all on the regulation drill pad.

Some drill teams have a difficult time switching from RD to XD when it comes to style- mainly feet and arms in most cases. But there is zero room for any kind of XD move when it comes to colors. When on a color team, the team should act with the utmost professionalism at all times.

Image courtesy www.cityofperris.org/

New Leader Syndrome

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Yes, it’s true, there is a plague that spreads about this time every year among many schools’ JROTC programs: the new leadership for the unit is being picked and the old leadership is getting ready to graduate. Here is the question I get most often at the end of each school year:

“I’m going to be the new (Armed/Unarmed Drill Team, Color Guard, Honor Guard) commander next year and the graduating leadership was less than desirable (or, never wrote anything down, etc.). Do you have any advice for me?”

Thanks to my friend Austin Reid, I was prompted to write about this serious condition. The answer is “YES! I have some great advice!”

  1. Mandatory: Start conditioning your mind and body so you can come in fresh from the summer ready to tackle the challenges of your new position.
    • Mind: Know your service’s drill and ceremonies manual like the back of your hand. Read it again and again. Know everything there is to know about it, everything. And when someone asks you a question and you cannot remember specifically, NEVER just go off memory, double check with the manual, always.
    • Body: Cardio and strength training exercise along with good stretching. Do you have to be the next Mr. or Mrs. Universe? No, of course not. But daily exercise is very good for you and, believe me, when you get older you will appreciate keeping a good regimen.
  2. Optional: Read other materials that will help you in your new position like, say (you didn’t expect me to leave my own books out of this, did you?):

So, there you have it: Education and conditioning are two of the keys to leadership.

The other keys are temperance, a cool head, patience,care, etc.

Eight Things Every Driller Needs

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Drill Team TrainingDrill Team Training
Alice Cooper sang, “School’s Out For Summer!” back when I was growing up and it is still the same- students across America look forward to those great summer months of NO SCHOOL! Some students get jobs, vacation with family, march in a drum and bugle corps and many other activities. What will you do? Sit around on the couch playing video games eating peanut butter out of the jar? The peanut butter is good for you, but the sitting around isn’t, especially if you are a Driller.

GET UP. Go outside and after you finish your chores, practice. Every day for an hour except on weekends (or whatever similar schedule works for you- just take a break each week for a couple days). Take a break from practicing about once a month or so for about 3 additional days. Do something else and don’t drill. Don’t saturate yourself in drill every waking moment, you need to have something else to do, some other hobby or even work.

If you are a Driller, armed or unarmed, you need the following:

  1. Strength
  2. Vocabulary
  3. Experience
  4. Speed
  5. Agility
  6. Stamina
  7. Knowledge
  8. Precision

Strength

Every Driller (every person, for that matter) should develop a solid core (abs, sides, chest, upper and lower back). Your trunk is where movement begins and f it is not solid, you won’t be able to do what you want or look as sharp. Your arms and legs need to be able to support you and also execute the movements you require in your routine.

Vocabulary

You need both types: Equipment and Body (if you are an unarmed Driller= just body). Movement should be explored to its fullest and when you perform and constantly repeat the same movements, it makes for a lifeless routine. The more movements you know and perfect, the bigger your vocabulary. On a side note: the wider your vocabulary, the better you can be at making things up on the spot, but that also takes experience.

Experience

You need to perform for people. Anyone who will watch you, then go perform! There are probably some civic and veteran organizations that meet weekly or monthly. Call and ask if you can perform for them. They will love it, trust me, and you will get some experience and start relaxing in front of an audience.

Speed

Tempo variations are a must in any kind of performance; you need to have fast (think: Sam Gozo) and slow (think: some Hawaiian drill routine moments) movement mastered.

Agility

You need to articulate you movement and you need to move efficiently. If you do not have body and equipment agility, you are not able to articulate which means you are not communicating your movement clearly/effectively.

Stamina

Can you perform your routine from stat to finish and not look out of breath? No? Then start practicing your routine back-to-back. Running is also good. Don’t write your routine so that easier movement is toward the end so you can relax a little, gain stamina and push through!

Knowledge

Drillers need to be aware of routine construction, highs and lows, the “what” and “how” of a performance, and so much more. Go here and read, read, read. Then, apply what you read.

Precision

Exactness is paramount. If you are a soloist, you will need consistency (the same style over time). If you are part of a team, you will not only need consistency, but also uniform (at a single moment) in your movement.

 

JROTC

JROTC, ROTC and More!

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Claude Pepper Junior Leadership Pilot Program (CPJLPP)

Maritime and Science Technology Academy

This page is the culmination of hours of research to bring information on all of the cadet programs available American youth. If youknow of yet another program, please let me know and I will add their information.

Military Service Sponsored High School JROTC Programs (in joint service order)

JROTC stand for Junior Reserve Offiicer Training Corps

The Coast Guard currently has two “JROTC” programs.

1) The Claude Pepper Junior Leadership Pilot Program (CPJLPP) was created at the Maritime and Science Technology Academy (MAST) located in Miami, Fl. The CPJLPP was created December 1989 with the passing of Pub. L. 101-225, title II, Sec. 204. This congressional mandate formed the CPJLPP which was modeled off of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) units of other Services. MAST has evolved from a Trade School to a “Top 100,” nationally recognized high school with over 95% of its student body college bound immediately after graduation. The huge minority base of the student population routinely receives scholarships to prestigious colleges and universities. The curriculum provides the students a challenging environment in which to learn. (MAST picture at right)

2) Camden County/CamTech High School (CCHS) Junior Leadership Program in Camden County, NC (just outside Elizabeth City, NC). The Junior Reserve Officer Training Pilot Program (JROTPP), now referred to as the Junior Leadership Program (JLP) was created at the Camden County High School (CCHS) on 19 April 2010 in following the legislation in Pub. L. 109-241, title IV, Sec. 401. This congressional mandate formed the JLP which was modeled off of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) units of other Services. The JLP is broken up into two semesters and each student takes JLP classes for one semester a school year. During their “off” semester, the students are expected to participate in calisthenics, drill and extra-curricular activities. CCHS has had the highest rate of graduation in the local Elizabeth City, N.C. area, but the purpose of the JLP is largely to keep students in school through graduation.

Both JROTC programs educate high school students on leadership, citizenship, nautical science, close order drill and general military knowledge. From here

 Kentucky National Guard’s “JROTC” program: Jr. Guard

From a KY Jr. Guard instructor: The JR. Guard program is a collaborative partnership between our Youth Service Center and the 1/623rd Kentucky Army National Guard. The program began in the 1995-96 school year with approximately 15 students. The idea was to target “at-risk” kids who were falling through the cracks of our educational system. Students are provided with a JR. ROTC-like opportunity that links our school and the military. Through this opportunity we hope to find a niche for those students who may not be able to find there way elsewhere in the school.

  • The students in the program are linked with National Guard members who serve as mentors. These mentors meet with the students on a regular basis.
  • They participate in experiential activities that demonstrate the value of classroom learning with adult guardsmen.
  • The students are taught things like self-discipline, rapelling, marching, drill and ceremony, use of night vision goggles, map reading, marksmanship, military etiquette, first aid, physical fitness, and the list goes on and on.
  • The culmination of the year brings the students to our annual FTX (Field Training Exercise). At the FTX, students put into play, what they have been practicing all year long.
  • During the 1998-99 school year, the Kentucky School Boards Association, through their Public Education Achieves in Kentucky (PEAK) Award, recognized this innovation design because it enhances student learning and promotes public education.
  • While the program initially targeted an “at-risk” population, the popularity of the program has grown so that there is a waiting list every year of the students and parents who want to participate in the program.
  • We have seen a reduction in disciplinary problems with these students and a dramatic improvement in student self-esteem and achievement.
  • Currently the program includes students in grades 6-12 at participating schools. The schools that are participating are in 8 different school systems across the state of Kentucky.

College ROTC Programs

*A graduate of Navy ROTC can commission into the Coast Guard.

Service Academies

*A graduate of the MMA can commission into the Navy.

Non-school Based Programs (high school age and younger)

Middle School Programs

After-School Program

There are also dozens of military schools, academies and institutes across the United States that offer boarding for young boys and girls through junior college. As an example, New Mexico Military Institute, the school I attended.

junior leadership program, jrotc, lots, air force, army, marine corps, navy, merchant marine academy, merchant mariners, military cadets

Updated 9 Jan 14

How to Size a Sword/Saber

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How to Size a Military Sword

Sword Manual of Arms

From The Honor Guard Manual

We periodically receive questions about how to properly size a sword or saber. Contrary to much of the information that is “out there”, the sword and saber blade length is not simply a function of a person’s height.

The correct length is the blade length that will place the tip of the blade at approximately eye height when an individual carries the sword at the “Carry Sword” position (sword drawn, arm at side, and blade in a vertical position pointing up). More correctly then, the correct blade length is a function of the individual’s arm length, the individual’s neck length, how the individual carries the sword piece, and even the type of sword.

Why is blade length important?

For those intending to mount the sword or saber on a wall and having no intention of executing manual of arms (draw sword, present arms, parade rest, etc.), blade length is not critical. A 30-inch blade length is the most common length, generally fitting those between 5’8″ and 5’11” in height.

For those intending to execute manual of arms, blade length is important. A sword blade that is too long not only looks odd and non-uniform, but also risks knocking off headgear or increases head movement when going to the “Carry Sword” position.

What sword or saber length do I need?

  1. The best way to size a sword or saber is to hold another sword or saber in the “Carry Sword” position to see how the length fits.
  2. If one does not have another sword or saber on hand, measuring for the fit is possible. Stand at a modified position of attention with your arm extended down at your side and your fingers extended down.
  3. Measure from your eye to the “V” between your thumb and your index finger. Using this measurement, the correct sword length depends on the type of piece:
  4. If you are within a 1/2-inch of a sword size: we generally recommend rounding up to the nearest size.
  5. If you are within 1-inch of a sword size: we generally recommend rounding down to the nearest size.
  6. For 1-1/2-inches: since most of our swords are sized in 1″ increments (a few are offered in 2″ size increments) it would be rare to have a 1-1/2-inch rounding issue, unless we were back-ordered on some sizes and you needed a sword very quickly. We would generally suggest against rounding 1-1/2-inches or more, but if necessary, we would suggest rounding down to the nearest size. It is easier to compensate for a shorter length sword by slightly raising your hand/arm’s position (to bring the point up to eye level) than it is to compensate for a longer sword by lowering your hand.

sword, saber, honor guard, drill team

Folded American Flag

How Should Multiple Flags be Folded When Taken Down?

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This is for outside flags (attached to a halyard and flown from a pole), not indoor/outdoor flags (for color guard flagstaffs for carrying only).

The American Flag

The American flag must always be folded into a triangle (ref: Flag Code). If it is wet from rain or snow, it is taken down, folded, and brought inside where it is unfolded and laid out to air-dry. Once dry, it is refolded, taken outside to be unfolded and raised.

Other Flags

All other flags are twice folded in half length-wise and then folded in half width-wise three or four times depending on their length. You should end up with a rectangle.

Flags on the same Pole- same halyard or double halyard
Depending on the number of flags being taken down (no more than two: US and state or US and POW), all of the flags (same pole) are taken down and gathered into different individual’s arms and then folded at the same time- or at least the American flag is folded first if not enough personnel are available at the same time.

Special State Flag Folding Procedures

The triangle fold is reserved for the American flag. It is not appropriate to straight-fold any other flag into a triangle unless dictated by the state. (for special folds, ref: Secretary of State, State Attorney General’s Office, state legislature, etc.) If your state has not dictated a special fold, you should fold it into a rectangle.

MinnesotaFolding the MN State Flag2017 Minnesota Statutes

Subd. 6. Folding of the state flag for presentation or display. The following procedures constitute the proper way to fold the Minnesota State Flag for presentation or display. Fold the flag four times lengthwise so that one section displays the three stars of the state crest and the text “L’Etoile du Nord.” Fold each side behind the displayed section at a 90-degree angle so that the display section forms a triangle. Take the section ending with the hoist and fold it at a 90-degree angle across the bottom of the display section and then fold the hoist back over so it is aligned with the middle of the display section. Fold the other protruding section directly upwards so that its edge is flush with the display section and then fold it upwards along a 45-degree angle so that a mirror of the display section triangle is formed. Fold the mirror section in half from the point upwards, then fold the remaining portion upwards, tucking it between the display section and the remainder of the flag.
Subd. 7. Folding of the state flag for storage. When folding the Minnesota State Flag for storage, the proper procedure is to fold and store the flag in the same manner as the national colors.

South Carolina has a special fold developed my an SCNG Soldier. Click here for the South Carolina state flag.

 

Ohio’s state flag, which is actually a burgee, is actually folded 17 times!

Texas. Fold horizontally so that the red stripe is up and the white stripe down. Repeat another horizontal fold. The red stripe will now be on the inside and the white stripe on the outside, the blue field on top and the star facing down. Fold from the end like the National. Keeping folding the flag as such until the entire triangle is blue with part of the star remaining.

Maryland’s technique is just like the National.

Foreign national flags may have vastly different techniques. Do your research if that applies.

The DrillMaster

Criticism

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Honor GuardCriticism

There are different types of criticism:

  1. Negative (personal to one or more people)- criticism that has no real point except to tear a person down which only leads to defensiveness. Examples:
  • “That was terrible.”
  • “You really did a bad job on that.”

2. Constructive (professional)- the ability to point out that a performance (in our case) may have had faults, but here is how to improve on those issues. Examples:

  • “Your entrance was not timed very well, I suggest that you get the audience’s attention and then proceed. You will probably find that the ceremony begins much more smoothly.”
  • “Overall, the performance was poor due to the members of the team seeming to not know what to do next. Reviewing your training and sticking to that training is what is needed.”

I hope that it is obvious that we all need constructive criticism. Everyone needs improvement in certain (all) areas of our lives. When one steps into the world of pageantry arts (marching band, indoor music and visual performance ensembles, honor guard, drill team, etc.), many then seek professional criticism for ways to improve.

What if someone doesn’t want to hear criticism?

  1. Performer: Then don’t ask for it. But why would you not want to receive feedback on a performance, no matter what kind it is? Yes, the type of performance is irrelevant: funeral, exhibition drill, colors presentations, all are subject to a critique to help you improveand that is the bottom line.
  2. Critic: Don’t give it when not asked. Sometimes this can be difficult, but it is best to keep quiet until asked.

When asked to provide criticism, where should one begin?

  1. Knowledge and training based on a standard. Just because one is very involved in a certain area does not necessarily mean that one is qualified to judge or provide a through critique.
  2. Don’t just go from memory.

DrillMaster Critiques
Whether adjudicating an honor guard or military drill team performance/competition the only published standards available today are:

  1. The World Drill Association Adjudication Manual and Rule Book for all military drill performances and, additionally,
  2. The Honor Guard Manual for honor guard performances.

The WDA Manual is based on decades of adjudication standards for indoor (marching band) color guard performances. After I was trained and certified through Winter Guard International (WGI)/Color Guard Nederland as a General Effect judge, I spent several years judging and seeking more training to hone my skills. Eventually, with WGI’s blessing, I ‘filtered’ the WGI Manual through my military experience and created the WDA Manual. Both books are based on professional visual adjudication standards, many educators over the years have had input on the WGI Manual and I was able to take that and bring it to the military drill world.

The Honor Guard Manual is based on the American military’s joint service honor guard standards where applicable with Air Force Honor Guard standards as the default (e.g. firing party, six-man flag fold) and my decades of honor guard experience.

  • Pike pole and fire axe manuals: these two manuals were created to mimic, as closely as possible, the manual of arms for the colors rifle. Technically, it is my personal preference along with work accomplished by McAllen, TX firefighter Mark Zamora, that went into each manual, but each are still based on the military standard.

Personal Opinion is out
Can one provide a completely dispassionate, objective critique? No. But with continued education and training as a judge one can provide the most professional criticism as possible to help others achieve their goals.

Drill Posters- Be Positive

constructive criticism, professional criticism, negative criticism, drill team, honor guard, color guard