Salutes for Color Bearers

DrillMasterAsk DrillMaster, Color Guard/Color Team, Protocol and Flag Leave a Comment

Veteran groups tend to have difficulty with adherence to standards, especially when the group is mixed with civilians. For instance, the Patriot Guard Riders (PGR). The organization was founded “to shield families of fallen heroes from those that would disrupt the services of their loved ones.” A noble cause, for sure. The issue is not with the organization or even the intent of the members, it’s the application of standards.

PGR members line funeral processions and are usually holding flags on makeshift staffs. Nothing wrong with that at all. Specifically, some members want to give more and possibly feel that “just” standing in line with a flagstaff in the right hand isn’t enough. Many members will now hold the staff in the left hand and render some type of salute.

The “Civilian Bearer’s Salute”

The civilian standing in the line can do whatever he or she wants as long as it conforms to the Flag Code. Holding the staff in the left hand and placing your hand over your heart is just fine.

The “Military Bearer’s Salute”

We military retirees and veterans must still adhere to military standards. We are to stand at Attention and hold the staff in the right hand. Color bearers do not render a hand salute at all, ever.

The Military Guidon Salute

Never. You hold the staff in the right, which is the appropriate hand, but the left hand doesn’t move at all. The American flag does not render a salute (except aboard ship, but that’s a long explanation and not applicable here) and the one holding the American flag, the national color bearer, never salutes either. This salute is for a military guidon bearer only. Read more about that here.

Bearer Guidon Salute - Not Authorized
Bearer Guidon Salute – Not Authorized

Lack of Uniformity

With the civilian members possibly holding the staff in the left and the military properly holding the staff in the right, it might be considered a “messy” look. One option is to have everyone hold their staff in the right hand, while the other is to line up with military on one side and civilians on the other having the flags on the side toward the oncoming procession.

Other Military Standards

Do what you can physically handle when standing at Attention, saluting, facing movements, Parade Rest, etc.


To all in PGR members thank you for honoring my brothers- and sisters-in-arms, first responders, and their families.

Image at top, SoCal PGR.

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