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Color Guard Flag Position

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Our Cub Scout pack was responsible for color guard tonight at a minor league sporting event. Had a guy tell me tonight that the US flag should never "drape" in a color guard. We teach out boys to carry the flags upright and then drape as the stop to present the colors. The US flag is always at the highest point of all flags present, and so forth.

 

Anyway, I seem to remember reading something that the US flag should be draped, but now I can't find anything in the US code that says this either way. I find rules of not dipping to other flags, but that seems different from what I'm talking about. I can't find any BSA regulations as well.

 

 

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There are no BSA flag "regulations". There is only the US Flag Code.

 

What exactly do you mean by "draped"?

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The code does not specify one way or the other. Obviously keeping the poles vertical guarantees that a flag is at its highest point. And, if you have a cub, his adult leader may block the view from a particular angle, so maintaining that height may be a good idea.

 

Otherwise, it's just a matter of style.

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To "dip" the flag, tipping the pole, indicates some respect to another flag or entity. The term "drape" to me means placing the flag OVER something (like a casket?). When our smallish Cubs do flags, we ask them to "drape" the flag over their arm so as to not drag it on the floor. "Urban legend" indeed. But I would counsel holding the US flag as vertical as possible always, unless you have to go thru a short doorway, or the wind requires some physical handling. During the ceremonial speaking (PoA, SBB, etc.), the US flag would be kept vertical and other (state, county, etc. ) flags dipped slightly, in respect.

As I look at your picture, I might suggest that if you do "dip" the flag slightly for visual effect, make sure all the other flags are dipped distinctly MORE. By tradition and expectation, the US flag should always be the highest (disregarding the situation at the UN, for instance) of all flags present.

 

Google "flag etiquette" and take your pick...

 

During a 9-11 commemorative, I had a LARGE State Trooper/ex-Marine both thank me for our Scouts' flag ceremony and chastise us because "that wasn't the way we did it". His complaint was that while we had the US flag LEAD the procession into the hall and onto the stage, the procession leaving had the US flag be the LAST off the stage, and THEN lead the procession out of the hall. He favored the US flag FIRST at all times. I had another man say that the US flag should've been the LAST out of the hall. Can't please every one.(This message has been edited by SSScout)

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"Tilted forward to let the flag fall slightly. "

 

The US flag is held upright at all times by the color guard. Sometimes a bit difficult to do by the younger scouts ...

 

 

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Thanks, all.

 

The critique wasn't from the promoter. Just some random guy. The promoter loves us as we've done color guard for them six times this year and three last year. The team made the playoffs and they had 48 hours before the first game. They called us first. They proactively called us to set dates at the beginning of teh season, too. We have a good rapport with them.

 

Draping was a bad word. Thanks for calling me on that. I think "Fall" was a word I read somewhere. The idea being that the flag opens up more to see if more visibly. I'm certainly not defending or promoting the way we are doing it. Just trying to understand if it is correct I've Googled a lot of images and I see all kinds of examples for both. What you don't always get is the context of the ceremony.

 

We certainly keep the US flag higher. In the picture, you see me standing bahind both flags. These are young boys carrying heavy flags. I won't let a Bear or Tiger hold the bigger flags. We bring the smaller den flags so the younger boys have something to carry. I'm behind the large flags for support and to coach during the ceremony if needed. I do 1on1 instruction for the US/Pack flag bearers, but sometimes, I have to whisper a reminder in their ear, or move an elbow up, down, or in. In the picture, you can see I'm watching the pack flag that it doesn't move above the US flag. In all, these boys do a wonderful job. We've had a lot of fans come up and introduce themselves as former Scouts and indicate if they were Eagle. Every one has commented on how impressed they are with the presentation of the flags by a Cub Scout group. The boys take a lot of pride in those comments. It's great stuff.

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"The US flag is held upright at all times by the color guard. Sometimes a bit difficult to do by the younger scouts ... "

 

Actually, our boys can hold a flag upright a lot better than tilting it forward. They have to hold the extended weight, which is harder.

 

We've done it that way because that's what we were taught by a former Cubmaster. I don't see anything in the US Flag code to support his teachings or yours. That's what I'm trying it find is what is right according to the US government.

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""what I'm trying it find is what is right according to the US government.""

 

Oh, don't get us started on THAT...

 

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The American Flag is never "dipped" in tribute to any person or for any event or purpose. Cubs do let it tip forward sometimes, though not intentionally...no major sin committed--those things can get HEAVY for a little guy. I hope folks would understand that. Just tell the boys to "Do Your Best!"

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As someone who did JROTC ceremonies as well as scouting ones, may I comment?

 

There are several factors that go into how a Cub holds a flag: their strength and size are factors, but also the weight and height of the flag and flagpole.

 

One thing myu pack did when it started was get a set of white flag carrier belts. They are adjustable, and help the cubs.

 

An aside. When I worked summer camp staff we had a crusty, old retired Marine MGnySgt drill the staff on how to put up and take down the flags. Since we were older Scouts, Sea Scouts, Explorers, and leaders, he held us to a very, very high standard and was demanding when we practiced during staff week.

 

But with new Scouts in his FYC program, he had the patience of a saint.

 

And don't get me started on him and Cubs. Yes I saw a tear trickle down when he watched some Cubs do a flag ceremony, even if it was a Chinese fire drill and the leader had to help out. ;)

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"I don't see anything in the US Flag code to support his teachings or yours. That's what I'm trying it find is what is right according to the US government."

 

Keep in mind that a color guard is a military formation. You will not find military procedures in a set of civilian laws.

 

Air Force Manual 50-14 (now known as 36-2203) and Army Field Manual 22-5 will both have information about color guards. There is also a Naval equivalent to the above publications, but since I'm not a Navy guy I have no clue what it is. Rest assured there will be differences between the Naval and A/AF traditions.

 

To be honest, though, as long as the scouts are being respectful, I wouldn't worry about it too much. You do this 6 times a year and this is the first time someone has approached you? Sounds like the boys are doing a great job. Thank the gentleman and move on.

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