Carryin the Flag in Parades

Discussion in 'US Flag Display' started by AJB-Westchester Brassmen, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. Carrying the Flag in Parades

    I am the Honor Guard of a parade drum corps in NY. I have a few questions on how carry the flag.
    1. When I joined the corps, we stepped off on right shoulder arms, with the left hand holding the cup of the holster. During the parade, we would sometimes go to left shoulder arms. Is left shoulder arms ok?
    2. About 10 years ago, we went to an arm swing. Is this ok when carrying the flag?
    3. This is the first years that we will carrying the flag with the forearm at a 45 degree angle, we used to carry it with the forearm parallel to the ground. At present, we would have both forearms parallel to the ground. How do we present with the forearm at a 45 degree angle?
    Thank you.
     
  2. I also have another question:

    If there are two or more American Flags in line, do they have to guarded on both sides?
     
  3. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Greetings, AJB -- welcome to the forum!

    The Flag Code does not contain much specific information about color guards. Most organizations that I'm familiar with base their usage on military regs, modified to suit their particular needs. In the comments below, I'll refer to what's specified in the Army Drill and Ceremonies Manual, FM 3-21.5. Each of the other services has its own regulations, but they are generally fairly similar.

    During the parade, we would sometimes go to left shoulder arms. Is left shoulder arms ok?

    The FM says: The Color guard marches at [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]Right Shoulder Arms [/FONT]and executes [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]Facing [/FONT]movements by wheeling to the right or left. This applies only to the guards (carrying weapons). The color bearers themselves always carry the flag in the "carry" position, with the staffs vertical. The reg does not mention left shoulder arms in connection with the color guard.

    About 10 years ago, we went to an arm swing. Is this ok when carrying the flag?

    In the general explanation of marching procedures, the reg says:

    The arms swing in a natural motion, without exaggeration and without bending at the elbows, approximately 9 inches straight to the front and 6 inches straight to the rear of the trouser seams. Keep the fingers curled as in the [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]Position of Attention so that the fingers just clear the trousers.[/FONT]​

    I'd assume that this would apply to the weapons bearers in the color guard. As for the color bearers, here is what the FM says:

    At the [FONT=TimesNewRoman,Italic]Carry, rest the ferrule of the staff in the socket of the sling. The socket is below the waist and adjusted to ensure that the finials of all Colors are of equal height . . . Grasp the staff with the right hand (even with the mouth) and incline it slightly to the front with the left hand securing the ferrule in the socket. The left hand may be positioned immediately below the right hand to more firmly secure the Colors on windy days.

    This seems to make it clear that the color bearers should support the staff with both hands, so that they would not swing their arms.

    This is the first years that we will carrying the flag with the forearm at a 45 degree angle, we used to carry it with the forearm parallel to the ground. At present, we would have both forearms parallel to the ground. How do we present with the forearm at a 45 degree angle?

    The description of the carry position (above) makes it pretty clear that the forearm should be inclined upward, so that the hand is level with the mouth. There is no "present" position for the color bearers -- they keep the flag at the carry. When saluting during a parade, the guards execute either "present arms" or "eyes right" depending on the circumstances, and the organizational color is dipped at a 45 degree angle. The US flag is never dipped, but remains in the carry position.

    If there are two or more American Flags in line, do they have to guarded on both sides?

    I assume that you mean that the American flags would be side by side. I don't think that this is mentioned in the FM, but I would think that one guard on each end of the line would look fine.

    Again, there is are no overarching rules that apply to non-military organizations -- you are free to make up whatever works for your needs. However, the military regs are a good guide.

    I hope that all this is useful. Again, sorry for not responding right away.


    Peter Ansoff
    [/FONT]​
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2011

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