The Logical Separation of Colors

DrillMasterAsk DrillMaster, Color Guard/Color Team, Honor Guard Training, Instructional 3 Comments

While I’m sure that you are completely mesmerized at my drawing abilities, I hope the illustrations help get the idea across.

First: know the difference between posting and presenting the colors. Posting the colors is when the colors guard/team enters, renders honors and then places the colors in the stands. Presenting is when the colors team enters, renders honors and departs (called a “Show-n-Go”). This article is about the former, posting the colors.

The following is guidance for a DrillMaster Certified Ceremonial Guardsman.

Where to Post

Location. On stage at the back, in front on the floor, together, split. It’s up to you for your situation. You are educated and trained in various techniques to handle different situations, rely on that and as long as the American flag receives the utmost respect during the ceremony, you will be fine.

Together or Split? Again, that depends. Here is some guidance.

As long as the American flag is in the position of honor the whole time (in front or to the right of the other flags), aesthetics and visual balance are the big factors when considering separating posted flags or keeping them together (audience, camera angles, etc.). Position the stands with uniform separation either all together or in groups.

“You Got Odds, I Got Evens.”

You decided to split post, so now let’s consider the number of flags to post.

An even number of flags is simple to group when split posting, 50-50.

An odd number of flags is a different issue. How does one separate an odd number? In the example image below, we have a three and two split. Look at your flags with a logical view of how to group them. The example below might be all that you need.

American | State | City                                      Organization | POW/MIA

What to Post

Post all of your flags. Try not to have one or more flags preposted and then carry in two for presenting and posting. If this might be the case, it would be better to prepost all of the colors (e.g. American, state, City, & Organizational) and then present the minimum (American and state) with a show-n-go type of colors presentation.

Think of it this way, having a preposted flag or flags is like having several flagpoles outside and having one or two flags already raised while you come in with the American and state flags to raise them on two other poles. It’s just not appropriate. The American in the situation would be the first flag raised on its pole and the American flag is always posted with all other flags (one exception noted below).

The minimum for the color team is three members, US flag and two guards. Two armed guards are the standard for the military and paramilitary (LE, fire, EMS) organizations, but not scouting programs, colors only for them. Rifles or axes are the weapons and the flags are

  1. The American flag
  2. Non-national flag
    • Uniformed service flag
    • State flag

Additional flags – the above is the minimum for first responders. Additional flags would be next: city, service (LEO, fire, EMS). Here is information on the POW/MIA.

Personal Colors. A personal or positional color is not carried in a color guard and must be preposted for a when the color guard will post the colors. No other military flag can be preposted and no civil/civilian flag should be preposted.

How to Post

See the article, All About Posting or Presenting the Colors.

Comments 3

  1. Greetings from Williamsburg Virginia,

    I am a member of the color guard team for the upcoming Queen’s Jubilee. My organization is the Saint Andrew’s Society of Williamsburg. We are a Scottish organization. I have one question about posting. We have two events on June 2nd. The first is a parade through Colonial Williamsburg. I know how to present the colors for a parade. My concern is the evening event. It is also held outdoors and will be a few speeches and several pipe bands. We are to post the colors on the steps of the college building. The four of us will march through the doors to the outdoor plaza. We will have four flags, in the following order; American, British Union Jack, the Scottish St. Andrew’s Cross (Saltire), and the Saint Andrew’s Society of Williamsburg flag. On the steps, the flags will be split, two on each side of the doorway…US and British on the left facing the building and the other flags on the other side. Since this is a civilian event, our team will be in our Kilts, dress shirt, and tie.

    What is the proper procedure for posting the flags? March out, stand behind the flag bases, and then when we are in position, Announce, “Post Colors”? We want to do this right. We could be on worldwide TV for this ceremony. Thanking you in advance.

    1. Post

      Mr. Madigan,

      What a great opportunity! What you describe, marching through the doorway is appropriate. I would add here that the colors can be formally presented, non-national colors dipped, both anthems (Star-Spangled Banner last) played or sung, and then the team split up to post with the command, “Post!” Or, you can enter, split to behind the stands, “Post”, place the staffs in the stands, dress them toward the audience (flag silk in front of the staff, with you being able to see the staff, top of the flag dressed to your left), come to Attention, one step to the rear, halt, render the hand salute for the anthems, and depart.

      If you want me to record a demonstration video for you and your team, let me know and I’ll do it right away.


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