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More Than One Flag At a Ceremony

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“You cannot display more than one flag at a ceremony!” That’s one of several urban legends I’ve heard over the years related to me or told directly to me by well meaning people. Well meaning people who don’t know what they are talking about. Apparently, one set already posted and another set formally presented is “too many”.

The Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team with “too many” flags

I know, you are a patriotic American and you know what you know because at some point you were in an armed service, a Scout, or on the school bike patrol. Standards remain the same, but our memories are poor at best. This is why we need to constantly go back to the Flag Code and our military manuals to recheck our facts. Below is a quote from the Flag Code:

TITLE 36, CHAPTER 10, PATRIOTIC CUSTOMS
§175. Position and manner of display
(k) When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.

Nothing in the Flag Code states that more than two flags is inappropriate or unauthorized. So let’s look at when and why two or more flags make an appearance in a ceremony.

The Massing of the Colors Event

The Massing of the Colors in Cocoa, FL

This could also be known as the “Way Too Many Flags Event” for some. If you have not been to one, this can be a wonderful sight to see: dozens of color guards, all with their flags from all kinds of different organizations gathering together to honor the flag. Read here for more information.

Presenting – Posting – Retrieving

The Show-n-Go

Presenting the Colors. The standard. The “Show-n-Go”. There is nothing wrong with having a set of flags already pre-positioned on the stage (for instance) and, at the cue, having the color guard enter, formally present a second set of colors, and leave with that second set. As a matter of fact, this should be the usual setup. It’s a formal presentation but can be used at an informal situation and still allows everyone to get on with the business of the event.

Posting the Colors. Presenting and then posting the colors should be reserved for a more special occasion and should not be the every-day or possibly even the monthly standard.

Retrieving the Colors. having the color guard come back into the room to retrieve the colors is a black tie affair and should happen maybe once a year. It need to be reserved for a very special occasion.

The Draped and Dressed Casket

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A fully draped casket

This article is about when to drape, dress, or band the flag on the casket and when to transfer a casket using each of the three techniques. Let’s begin with a bit of history.

For the US military, caskets have been carried while draped, dressed, and banded for decades depending on the requirements. Different services have used different standards at various times as you will see by the pictures.

The terms draped/dressed/banded casket = draped/dressed/banded flag.

Dressed casket of JFK

For many years, first responders (law enforcement, firefighters, and EMS personnel) have followed US military standards from the Army and Marine Corps due to the volume of information in both drill and ceremonies manuals. The Air Force manual relies heavily on both manuals and is usually not referenced. Even though the two manuals have an abundance of information, understandably, first responders have resorted to creating techniques to suit their immediate needs. These standards extend into the Forest Service, various rescue agencies around the country, TSA color guards, and Federal Reserve Police.

Draped Casket
1985 – Pallbearers carry the flag-draped casket of LTJG Sather at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

In the Military Drill World and especially the Ceremonial Drill World there are some times when “Never” and “Always” are necessary. To say, “A draped casket is never carried”, or something similar, is just not so. A drape, dress, or band situation is not one of those times for an always or never, except where noted below.

Defining our Terms

Draped Casket: The flag is laid over the casket.

Draped Casket (Circa 1985)
Here, a US Navy Ceremonial Guard Carry Team escort the remains of a fallen shipmate in a transfer case.
Trasnfer cases are now banded underneath the flag and the flag is then folded and tucked into the band on all four sides.

Dressed Casket: The flag is “dressed” (folded up) at each end.

Fully Dressed Casket (Both Ends)
Here, the last two guards for Casket Watch dressed the flag and are now rotating the casket to escort it out of the chapel to the awaiting pallbearers.

Banded Casket: A Casket band is around the flag holding it to the casket.

Banded Casket
Here, firefighters train to place the casket on the hose bed of an antique fire truck.
Draped casket
Circa 1960-1975 copyright Carnegie Museum of Art, Charles “Teenie” Harris Archive

When and Why

Pallbearers transporting a fully draped casket

Carrying a draped casket. There is no reason that a team of pallbearers cannot carry a casket with the flag draped. It’s just a technique the team can use. However, the team must also have a planned technique for ensuring the flag does not get caught under the casket when loading and unloading the casket from the coach, caisson, apparatus, or mockup. I wish I had pictures of my time with USAF Base Honor Guards, but we didn’t take pictures that much back then. At the mockup, the four pallbearers at each end would take their outside hand along the edge of the flag, run it out to the corner and lift the corner holding it out from the casket to prevent setting the casket down on the flag. The casket would be lowered and the Tabletop sequence would then commence. However, dressing the flag from the start eliminates any possible issues.

Training: Holding the corners of the flag before setting down the casket

See also, All About the Flag on the Casket.

President GWB’s draped casket

Dressing the Flag

Here, the lead pallbearer uses an Air Force technique to dress the flag before the pallbearers approach

This technique can eliminate the guesswork ensuring the the flag is secure and not in danger of being caught on anything.

Depending on the military service, there are different times to dress the flag. For United States Certified Ceremonial Guardsmen, the times are: right after the completion of Formal Casket Watch, as pictured above, and upon the pallbearers lifting the casket from the bier or pulling it out of the coach.

Fully dressed flag
This occurs immediately after the pallbearers have the casket out of the coach and Push-Pull has moved from the head to secure his corner

Banding the Flag

This is an “Always” situation since the casket on a fire truck hose bed must have the flag secured. It is not mandatory in other situations, although there are times it may be preferable. Place the band and tuck the flag prior to final transport. Dress the flag before each transport and then drape it when the casket initially rests at each point of the funeral or at the last stop, the grave site.

Context is always necessary. Flags have a casket band in Arlington and other national cemeteries due to the casket traveling on a caisson. A banded casket being carried can be due to constant transfer from one mode of transportation to another (caisson, aircraft, coach). A casket being placed outside and left unattended probably should have the flag banded so that a sudden wind gust does not create an extremely embarrassing moment.

Banded due to transport and being set down outside
Armed Forces body bearers carry President Gerald R. Ford into the the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum during the funeral service Jan. 2 in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Or, movement on a flight line can require a band.

Priesdent Reagan’s casket

Other Techniques

There aren’t any.

Please do not roll

The Takeaway

United Stated Certified Ceremonial Guardsmen have their standards outlined in The Honor Guard Manual and each military service honor guard has theirs. While we can see that there are times when pallbearers should use a certain technique, there isn’t a right or wrong way for dressing, draping, or banding (except where noted).

The Authorized Provider Partnership Program (AP3)

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You can read the documentation here. This is the slideshow presentation.

In a nutshell, retirees and veterans of the military services may join full and part-time installation ceremonial teams (honor Guards) for the purpose of supplementing, not replacing, team members for funerals.

There are two unofficial categories: the veteran joins the team, is suited up in the Class A or Ceremonial uniform and works each day to train and perform. The next category is the veteran service organization (VSO) joins with the installation team at the grave site and while the service members fold and present the flag, the VSO members act as the firing party and possibly color guard.

I had the distinct pleasure of being an AP3 member of the Spangdahlem Air Base Honor Guard from 2009 to 2011. It was a great experience that gave me the opportunity to help the team in many ways.

Ask your local installation ceremonial team or VSO about joining. In the meantime, watch Rendering Honors.

The Cherry Blossom Festival Joint Service Drill Exhibition

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History

UPDATE: CANCELED FOR 2019

The Marine Corps won the first Joint Service Drill Competition years ago when it was held inside a shopping center. You can see brief videos of that on YouTube. There was a long hiatus and the competition started back up, this time in front of the Jefferson Memorial. The Joint Service Drill Exhibition is now held at the Lincoln Memorial.

Exhibition? What happened to the Competition?

The last competition, which I judged, was in 2011 and the Air Force was the winner- by a hair. Why the change? Fairness. The Marine Corps and Army have had their separate drill teams in one platoon and the members of those platoons have had their specific job of perfecting the routine. The Air Force eventually created a flight that does the same thing. I’m not completely informed as to the Navy’s team, but they probably have a platoon that is only for drill. That leaves the Coast Guard. They will never be able to win- that is not a statement that should in any way be associated with the CG’s team being poor. It is not. I am thrilled to watch all of the team’s performances every year ad love to watch the Coast Guard’s team.

Why won’t they win? They are the smallest honor guard and are unable to have honor guard members totally dedicated to the drill team. All of the Coast Guard honor guard members must master every element of the honor guard: Colors, Pall Bearers and Firing Party. They all can switch around as needed so most of their time is spent practicing all of their duty related tasks, drill team is extra. Those who are on the drill team put in extra hours- and do a great job, mind you- but the routine must be kept relatively simple.

The other teams that have dedicated honor guard members can create complex routines that “wow” the crowd and while the Coast Guard drill team still “wows” crowds with their performances, their routine, when viewed through a judges lens of Overall Effect, Composition Analysis, Equipment and Movement is unable- on purpose- to be as complex and still have the excellent execution that we see in the other service honor guard teams.

So, instead of handing the trophy back and forth between the Air Force and the Army, with the Marines getting in there every few years, we can go and watch and appreciate all of the performances since, in reality, they are winners just because they get up every morning, put on a perfect uniform, honor our country’s war dead and heads of state and then go off to practice drill.

DrillMaster’s Score at Home Sheet

With the elimination of judging (which I fully support) from the yearly Presidential Honor Guard Drill Team performances, that doesn’t mean you can’t decide who you think is the “winner”! Let’s face it all of the teams are fun to watch and do a wonderful job, but we all have our favorites.

I’ve created a very simple four-caption score sheet and scoring system for you to download and use. See how you think the teams did and stack your results up against your friends’ and family’s.

The Pentagon Channel and others may air it. Check your listings.

The Uniform and Presenting the Colors

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I post what I call Micro Training Moments on Instagram. You can see them at right. Over the years, I have centered around the color guard because there is so much that is urban myth surrounding presenting the colors and a large community of under-educated team members. Education is my calling and the color guard is at the top of the list.

Fairchild AFB (WA) SERE team Presenting the colors for their ceremony in the AF utility uniform

One of the sub-topics that comes up often is the uniform that a color guard wears when posting or presenting the colors. For those in the military (Active, Guard, & Reserve), we know that the color guard’s uniform should match the official party or at least the occasion. Read All About the Color Guard here.

  • If it’s a colors presentation in the field, we would expect everyone to be in their service utility uniform.
  • A change of command at a home base would most likely be in service dress/Class A.
  • Installation honor guard/ceremonial teams wear there ceremonial/Class A uniform 99.9% of the time for ceremonies. It’s rare but possible for a colors presentation in utilities.

To present the colors in a utility uniform in public is considered inappropriate. Even though you are only at a local baseball game, you still represent your service and should do so to the best of your ability.

Posting colors in the Rein-Main (GE) community in the AF ceremonial uniform

Cadet programs should follow the same guidance, Class A or even B is the appropriate uniform- all of the time. There isn’t a reason to present in utilities for cadets that I can think of except possibly this: Friday night football game colors presentation and a drill meet the following day. I understand that completely and would hope that others do as well.

The Formal Occasion

However, what about the formal occasion where everyone is in mess dress or the service dress combination with bow tie? These two formal uniforms do not require a cover, which does not meet the color guard standard. In this formal situation, the color guard does not dress to match. The Class A/Ceremonial Uniform is the top uniform for the color guard. A mess dress or Class A with bow tie combination are not appropriate for a color guard.

After the colors presentation, you can always change into a formal uniform if you so desire. Just don’t do as the cadet did in the picture at the top and present in a bow tie with an unauthorized white shirt (no collar).

Service Drill Teams Attend Annual Training Camps

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Each year around the end of February and the beginning of March, each of the service drill teams (Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force- not sure about the Coast Guard*), leave their duty station and head out to train for about 30 days to work on the upcoming season’s routine.

USMC SDP Challenge DayBefore the teams leave for training there is a challenge time or, at least for the Marine Corps, Challenge Day. Honor guard members wishing to be a member of the team can perform the drill team’s manual, which they have practiced for weeks, and be graded in the hope to make a performing spot on the season’s team.

The Army, Navy and Air Force Silent Drill Teams, separately, go to different installations around the country and the Silent Drill Platoon along with the Drum and Bugle Corps heads to Yuma, AZ each year.

The photo is courtesy of the Marine Corps and shows a Marine performing for a grade by his inspector.

*Unlike the other service drill teams that have permanent members who are assigned to the team and usually do not have other honor guard duties, the Coast Guard’s honor guard is very small and all honor guard members are cross-trained and certified on the different ceremonial elements. Members volunteer to march on the drill team but the assignment is also part of their regular honor guard duties, so they have double and triple roles to perform in any given day with funerals, VIP arrivals, etc. including drill team practices and performances.

First American Flag Triangle Fold into the Canton

The Meaning of the Thirteen Flag Folds

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There is no official meaning to the folds of the American flag. No matter how strongly anyone insists that there is, there really isn’t any meaning behind a single fold. Click here for different unofficial flag fold scripts. There is a proper way to fold it, however.

Many videos liter the internet of how to fold the flag. In all honesty, most of these videos show terrible folding techniques. There’s even a flag company video that shows two employees folding the flag- upside down and backwards. Really. Several honor guard units also posted some videos showing very bad fold techniques.

Sagging, flipping, and ending the fold with red and even stripes showing, all are available for your viewing horror.

Please note. There is no other technique for folding the flag than making two horizontal folds and then thirteen triangle folds. While each military service has a slight variation as to how this is ultimately accomplished, there is not other authorized way.

I made the following video while I worked with a Army-based cadet organization located in Kentucky. I taught all ceremonial elements during the first and only Cadet Joint Service Honor Guard Academy.

Color Guard with POW/MIA flag outside of formation

All About The POW/MIA Flag Protocol

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Depending on where you live in the US, you can count on strong feelings as to whether the POW/MIA flag should be marched in a color guard for a parade.

Title 36 U.S. Code § 902 – National League of Families POW/MIA Flag

The information in the Flag Code is instructions for US government agency display. It has no information on a citizen, let alone the military, flying the flag.

League of Families Information

This information comes from a Veteran Service Organization, neither of which may dictate standards for the military. Link at the end of the article.

Military Service Manual Guidance

Other information that I have been able to find, with the assistance of Mike Kelley (DrillMaster002) reminded me, comes from AFI 34-1201, Protocol:

2.11.10. The POW/MIA flag will always be the last flag in any display.

What that means: In a line of flags, it will be the last flag in the stand. When flown from the same halyard as the US and a state flag, it is at the bottom, not in between the US and state. [Yes, I am aware that certain agencies have written guidance counter to this. My reasoning here comes from extensive research.]

Proper Display of the POW/MIA flag from a fixed flag pole

2.11.11. The POW/MIA flag will always be the last flag in any display, except on the six national observances for which Congress has ordered display of the POW/MIA flag. On these days it is flown immediately below or adjacent to the United States flag as second in order of precedence (however it still would be flown after other national flags). The six national observances are National POW/MIA Recognition Day (third Friday of September), Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day.

2.34.6.7. The POW/MIA flag is not carried or displayed in parades or reviews, however is authorized to be carried at official military funerals.

POW/MIA flag as a personal Color at a funeral

What that means: Even though this text is for the US Air Force, ALL SERVICES are not allowed to carry any non-military flag with very few exceptions and that includes the POW/MIA flag. Only an honor guard member may carry it as a Personal Color for the funeral of a former POW. Read here.

All Services. Military personnel in uniform or civilian clothing are not authorized to carry any non-military flag AR 840-10, MCO P5050.2 and AFI 34-1201. This means all military color guards are not authorized to carry the POW/MIA flag in or outside of a color guard formation. Again, the only time the flag is carried on its own (never with guards) is during a funeral for a former POW. It is not carried in parades.

Military, including JROTC, CAP, Sea Cadets, & Young Marines: No, you are not authorized to carry the POW/MIA flag.

First responders: Follow The Honor Guard Manual. Most likely you march a POW/MIA flag within the team formation. My advice is to stop including it in your color guard. March the US, state, and department flags.

Veterans groups: Veteran color guards follow a service D&C manual, which then dictates that you should follow the manuals that affect it (flag and protocol manuals). The end result is to not march it at all, it’s not authorized. Many veteran color guards carry it as part of their standard compliment of the American flag, joint service flags, and then the POW/MIA flag, but that’s not protocol to add any other flag: no state or POW flag is authorized. March the US and state flags or, if you want to march a joint service color guard: US, Army, MC, Navy, AF, & CG, no other flag is authorized in a full or partial joint service colors formation.

Depending on your location in the US, you will hear some very strong convictions (read: yelling matches) on whether it is OK to march it in a color team or not. Strong convictions do not replace written standards and just because a national veteran’s organization has written guidance does not mean that guidance has taken service standards into account. I know this is not comfortable to read.

The POW/MIA flag history is here. The League of Families website is here.

First Responder Funeral Guidelines

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These guidelines are for the United States Certified Ceremonial Guardsman program for more information on the program and how you and your team can be certified, click here to send me an email through the contact section on the Home page. Click here to download these guidelines to include them in your unit’s program. Developed in Coordination with Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office and West Palm Beach Police Department. If you have any information that you think should be included, please send it in and I will share it.

INTRODUCTION

  1. First responder employees have a sense of family that develops from the close working relationships and fellowship that is characteristic of the law enforcement, firefighting, and emergency medical service professions. It is important to demonstrate proper respect for the deceased, the next of kin, and coworkers.
  2. This document establishes the different levels of funeral honors and guidelines for official representation of the honor guard at funeral ceremonies.

DEFINITIONS

  1. GENERAL TERMS
    1. NOK – Stands for Next of Kin, the closest family member(s) to the deceased, usually a spouse.
    1. COACH – A much more gentle term for the hearse. Used in front of the family.
    1. HGC – Honor Guard Commander.
    1. FLAG TYPE – It is up to the NOK to decide on whether the deceased has a casket draped with the American, state, or municipal flag. Every American citizen is authorized to have the American flag on their casket. It is just a question of who will fold and present the flag.
  2. CEREMONIAL ELEMENTS
  3. CASKET WATCH – At minimum, one, but usually two unarmed (does not apply to service weapon) honor guard members stationed individually at the head and foot of the casket during the period of visitation or viewing of the deceased. Guards are changed on a rotation basis. The length of the watch depends on the number of trained watch guards. Heads-down is not authorized. Casket Watch guards must remain looking forward for communication with other team members including cues.
  4. COLOR GUARD – At a minimum, four honor guard members: two rifle/axe guards and two color bearers (US and state). The team may add a departmental flag. If the deceased served simultaneously in two departments (e.g. LEO and fire), both departmental colors may be added in joint service order: LEO, Fire, EMS.
  5. TROOP ESCORT – Uniformed members who flank the walkway between the house of worship or funeral home and the coach/caisson and gravesite.
  6. FIRING PARTY – Four or eight honor guard members (including the commander) who fire three volleys over the gravesite during the graveside service.
  7. PALLBEARERS – Six or eight honor guard members designated to carry the casket.
  8. HONORARY PALLBEARERS – Six or eight friends of the deceased and/or uniformed personnel designated to flank the pallbearers. At the discretion of the NOK.
  9. CAISSON – A fire truck with the hose bed used to transport the casket. Some cemeteries have a replica caisson made of wood that is either pulled by horses or the honorary pallbearers.
  10. MOTOR ESCORT – a minimum of two but no more than four LEOs on motorcycles to help the funeral procession through traffic.
  11. LAST RADIO CALL – Coordinated with central dispatch. The call goes out for the deceased’s badge number with no reply.
  12. CAPARISONED HORSE – A saddled rider less horse.
  13. AVIATION FLYOVER – A single aircraft coordinated to fly over before the flag fold and presentation to the NOK.
  14. BURIAL AT SEA – If the uniformed member served with a marine unit, burial at sea (casket or urn) is authorized provided it is in accordance with local environmental requirements.
  15. PIPES AND DRUMS – the musical unit to play whenever the casket is transferred from a building to transportation and to the gravesite.
  16. LONE PIPER – For funerals not authorized a full pipe band.
  17. USHERS – (not a ceremonial element, can be department employees or family friends, check with NOK) used in the chapel service to direct the attendees where to sit.

I. FUNERAL HONORS CATEGORIES

The following categories outline each ceremonial element provided and the number of members of the element in parenthesis. There are specifics listed below that only apply to a LEO or firefighter funeral.

  1. Full Honors Funeral – Line of Duty Death. A uniformed sworn employee who sustains a Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, receives the following:
    1. Casket Watch (2)
    2. Pallbearers (8)
    3. Honorary Pallbearers (8)
    4. Flag Draped Casket (US, state, or municipal – NOK)
    5. Flag Fold (2+) and presentation
    6. Color Guard (4+)
    7. Apparatus Caisson
    8. Motor Escort
    9. Firing Party (8)
    10. Bell Ceremony
    11. Taps (live bugler)
    12. Last radio call
    13. Ushers
    14. Pipes & Drums
    15. Aviation Flyover (if aviation unit)
    16. Caparisoned Horse (if mounted unit)
    17. Burial at Sea (if marine unit)
  1. Standard Honors Funeral – Line of Duty Death. An active civilian employee who sustains a line of duty death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, receives the following:
    1. Flag Draped Casket (US, state, or municipal – NOK)
    2. Flag Fold (2) and presentation
    3. Color Guard (4+)
    4. Motor Escort
    5. Pipes & Drums
    6. Last radio call
    7. Ushers
  2. Regular Honors Funeral – Deceased While Employed. A uniformed sworn employee who sustains a Non-Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, receives the following:
    1. Casket Watch (1, 2 if manning allows)
    2. Color Guard (4+)
    3. Pallbearers (6)
    4. Flag Draped Casket (US, state, or municipal – NOK)
    5. Flag Fold (2+) and presentation
    6. Motor Escort
    7. Firing Party (4)
    8. Bell Ceremony
    9. Last radio call
    10. Taps (live or digital)
    11. Solo Piper
    12. Ushers
    13. Aviation Flyover (if aviation unit and manning allows)
    14. Caparisoned Horse (if mounted unit)
    15. Burial at Sea (if marine unit)
  1. Modified Honors Funeral – Deceased While Employed. An active civilian who sustains a Non-Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, may receive the following honors:
    1. Color Guard (4)
    2. Motor Escort
    3. Flag Fold (2) and presentation
    4. Ushers
  2. Uniformed Retiree Funeral Honors. A retired sworn uniformed employee who sustains a Non-Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, may receive the following honors:
    1. Color Guard (4)
    2. Flag Fold (2) and presentation
    3. Taps
    4. Ushers
  3. Employee Retiree Funeral Honors. A retired civilian who sustains a Non-Line of Duty Death as designated by the Sheriff/Chief and is in good standing with the agency, receives the following:
    1. Color Guard
    2. Flag Fold (2) and presentation
    3. Ushers

II. FAMILY LIAISON

  1. Administrative Coordination. The appointed Family Liaison is responsible for securing pension, insurance, state or federal compensation, or benefits due the deceased’s NOK.
  2. Ceremonial Coordination. The Family Liaison will contact the NOK to ascertain if they wish official participation in the funeral. If official participation is desired, the Family Liaison will contact the HGC to coordinate with the funeral director regarding ceremonial duties at each stop of the procession.
  3. The HGC and ceremonial element leaders will visit the funeral home, house of worship, and gravesite to coordinate arrangements for each ceremonial element and report back to the Family Liaison.

III. DURING THE FUNERAL CEREMONY

  1. During all ceremonies and especially in front of the NOK, the specific terms must be used to reflect the professionalism of the team and dignity of the event (funeral, colors presentation, etc.). The following are terms and their subsequent replacement:
  1. Hearse – instead use, “Coach”.
  2. Coffin – instead use, “Casket”. In the USA, we do not normally carry a coffin, a six-sided container without handles.
  3. “Detail” – This generic term conveys a sense of “I need some volunteers” and those volunteers are possibly reluctant. Instead, use the ceremonial element terms: “Firing Party”, “Colors”, and [pall] “Bearers”. When writing about a request for ceremonial presence (a “detail”), use the term, “Ceremony” to be more clear.
  4. Fire Team, Firing Squad, and Rifle Team – These terms are not accurate descriptions of the ceremonial element known as the Firing party.
  5. See the book, The Honor Guard Manual, for a complete description of all ceremonial honors connected with a funeral and other occasions and the sequence of events.

IV. NON-LODD & OTHER FUNERALS

The following are procedures for civilian employees, retired employees and active or retired members from other agencies.

  1. Upon notification of a line of duty death from another agency, the Communications Supervisor forwards the notification to the Sheriff/Chief and HGC.
  2. Sheriff/Chief notifies HGC on recommended representation.
  3. HGC sends recommendation for official representation to Sheriff/Chief.
  4. Sheriff/Chief gives final approval.
  5. HGC notifies honor guard members of requirement to deploy.

Scorn, Rebuke, and Criticism

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Before we begin, let’s define some terms. We need to define these terms because some believe they already know what these terms mean, but in reality, they don’t understand them at all and that leads not only to confusing communication but also an adversarial atmosphere which accomplishes nothing.

Applicable Terms

Scorn: a feeling and expression of contempt or disdain for someone or something.

Rebuke/Scold/Reproach: express sharp disapproval or criticism of (someone) because of their behavior or actions.

Criticism:

  • The expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes.
  • The analysis and judgement of the merits and faults of a performance.

Constructive Criticism: The process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions about the work of others, usually involving both positive and negative comments, not in an oppositional but professional manner.

Destructive Criticism: Purely negative comments purposefully designed as an attack against another. It is never useful.

You Put on a Uniform…

When you join an organization you automatically gain a responsibility to it especially when you wear a uniform. In the case of a cadet org, your responsibility is to your unit, (school), community, cadet HQ, the service (AF, etc.), and the USA (in the case of a color guard). You are not just a regular Joe or Jane. Same for everyone in uniform.

Why do we have competitions?

To hone our skills and to ensure we are following standards (regulation drill) and/or to display our expertise in a certain area to where others approach us to find out how we train and practice. A competition is not about seeing who is better than others, but who or which team has better training and more efficient practice methods. Seeing competitors as the adversary is the wrong outlook.

Team Green should be able to go to Team Blue and ask, “How did you XYZ?” and Team Blue should then be able to then give an explanation. This is explained in the aphorism first coined by President John F. Kennedy, “a rising tide lifts all boats”. It is the idea that improvements in the general economy will benefit all participants (all teams) in that economy. For our purposes here economy means a particular system and that system is the Military Drill World.

Judging

I have been judging visual performances for many years. While I was stationed in Netherlands, I was certified by Color Guard Nederland (the Dutch sister organization of Winter Guard International) as a General Effect Visual adjudicator. I judged for Drum Corps United Kingdom, Drum Corps Holland, and the Pacific Coast Judges Association in California. Since 1994 I have judged JROTC drill meets in several states and different countries and have judged a fire department honor guard competition. If you look at my Instagram account you will see that I have “judged” well over 1000 videos and images sent in by followers and posted them on the account. This doesn’t take into account the multiple hundreds of MP3 files that I have sent to Active Duty, Guard, and Reserve military members from all services (yes, Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, Airmen, & Coast Guardsmen), international drill teams, solo Drillers, JROTC instructors, and cadets with my real-time feedback of their performance.

Most of the time my feedback is quite critical and has few positives. That is unfortunate, but many times a rebuke is necessary. We learn from rebukes, not scorn. My comments are based on the written standards (Flag Code, all service D&C, protocol, and flag manuals) for regulation drill elements and the only written standards for exhibition drill, the World Drill Association Adjudication Manual.

Feedback on the Feedback

I receive appreciative feedback all the time from those who request a critique and on a consistent basis from those who are not even involved with the critique request (helping others learn by another’s mistakes). And then there are those who don’t have a clue.

“They’re just children!” is my favorite ridiculous comment, referring to JROTC cadets who have never picked up their service drill and ceremonies manual and yet presented the colors at an event. Other comments I’ve received: “You should thank them (veterans or military in uniform performing horribly) for just being there”, “Their hearts are in the right place”, and the latest, “They are just Civil Air Patrol Cadets, give them a break”.

I’ve tried to explain what is going on to these people in an attempt to help them understand that standards always matter regardless of your age or any other factor that happens to come to mind. Unfortunately all I receive in return is scorn, which devolves into personal attacks. I don’t explain anymore.

There is No Excuse

If you are military or a cadet, read your applicable service manuals, all of them are available for free here. If you are in a Scouting-type program, stand by, more information is coming from The DrillMaster specifically for you. If you are a first responder, get on board with the United States Certified Ceremonial Guardsman program withe the ceremonial standards detailed in The Honor Guard Manual.