“Cultured” Honor

DrillMasterCommentary, Honor Guard Leave a Comment

“Cultured” means produced under artificial conditions.

Pearls are expensive and fairly rare. That’s why cultured pearls came about. A pearl is made by an oyster that has sand creep into its shell. The sand is rough and uncomfortable, so the oyster mixes the sand with secretions that create a smooth ball that can be tolerated. When people discovered the process, sand was then purposefully inserted into as many oysters as possible to force them to create pearls. “Forced pearls” just doesn’t sound all that great so, “cultured” was the name given them.

In a similar way, “honor” is constantly forced.

Honor (Guard) Defined

There are a few words that are abused in the English language and in the military drill world, the word honor is one.


  • A showing of usually merited respect.
  • A ceremonial rite (buried with full honors).
  • A ceremonial observance (joint honors arrival ceremony).

Honor Guard:

  • A guard assigned to a ceremonial duty.
    • [DM- this is the common explanation. An individual is an “honor guard”, but that’s not necessarily the full explanation.]

We need to go a bit further for our needs:

  • An Honor Guard is a military unit that has any one or all of the three ceremonial elements.
    • Color Guard.
    • Pallbearers.
    • Firing Party.
    • Other sub-elements based on ceremonial requirement.
      • Honor/sword cordon/side boys.
      • Car/building door openers.
      • Sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Guard of Honor.

Forced Honor

Throwing “honor” in front of anything doesn’t make the thing “honorabler”, except in the eyes of the one who created it.

Example 1. Veterans have been dying in hospitals since the the beginning of our country. Lately, having the veterans remains brought out of his or her room still on the hospital bed covered with a flag (a violation of the Flag Code and military standards- the flag only drapes a casket or military transfer case) while the bugle call Taps is sounded (a violation of military standards – no one moves during the sounding of Taps and Taps is only sounded at the veteran’s funeral).

Example 2. All American flags are equal. One is not more “specialer” than another no matter how excessively flamboyant a ceremony you give it. Historic American flags through the ages and flags that have certain significance (also historic), are nationally or personally special. That’s why they are in special frames in museums.

Example 3. We can see the “bigger, better, more” thought process that comes with yearly ceremonies. Suddenly, what we did in ceremonies around the country isn’t good enough. Rendering honors the “old”, established, standardized way isn’t good enough. More flags, bigger flag, more wreaths, larger wreaths. That’s small thinking. What happens now is salutes for every fold of the flag, agonizingly slow salutes at random times, made up movements to create a “ceremonialer” ceremony. The list is endless.


This is a sampling. I’m sure there is more that could be added here. Honor has been well established and we need to stop redefining and endlessly adding to it.

“Honor.” and “Honor guard.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/honor%20guard. Accessed 20 Mar. 2024.

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