Colors and Color Guards
Flags are almost as old as civilization itself. Imperial Egypt and the armies of Babylon and Assyria followed the colors of their kings. Ancient texts mention banners and standards. The flag that identified nations usually were based on the personal or family heraldry of the reigning monarch. As autocracies faded or disappeared, dynastic colors were no longer suitable and national flags came into being. These national flags such as the Union Jack of Great Britain, the Tricolor of France and the Stars and Stripes are relatively new to history. When the struggle for independence united the colonies, there grew a desire for a single flag to represent the new Nation. The first flag borne by our Army representing the 13 colonies was the grand union flag. It was raised over the Continental Army at Cambridge, Massachusetts, on 2 January 1776. The Stars and Stripes as we now know it was born on 14 June 1777.
The flags carried by Color-bearing units are called the national and organizational colors. The Colors may be carried in any formation in which two or more company honor guards or representative elements of a command participate. The Command Sergeant Major is responsible for the safeguarding, care and display of the organizational color. He is also responsible for the selection, training and performance of the Color bearers and Color guards.
The honorary position for the CSM is two steps to the rear and centered on the Color guard.
Because of the importance and visibility of the task, it is an honor to be a member of the Color guard. The detail may consist of three to eight soldiers, usually NCOs. The senior (Color) sergeant carries the National Color and commands the Color guard unless a person is designated as the Color sergeant. The Color sergeant gives the necessary commands for the movements and for rendering honors. The most important aspect of the selection, training and performance of the Color guard is the training. Training requires precision in drills, manual of arms, customs and courtesies and wear and appearance of uniforms and insignia.
A well trained color guard at the front of unit’s formation signifies a sense of teamwork, confidence, pride, alertness, attention to detail, esprit de corps and discipline. The Color Guard detail should perform its functions as much as possible in accordance with ARs 600-25, 670-1 and 840-10 and FM 22-5.