My Introduction to Flag Etiquette

The U.S. Flag or “Old Glory” was an important part of my childhood.  You see, children in the 1950’s didn’t have technology at their fingertips like children today.  Children had after school activities that were designed to build a strong foundation.  We were really citizens-in-training.  Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were important after-school activities that were approved by  parents.

I  went to Brownie Camp every summer at Scout Haven in Acworth, Georgia.  Every morning we stood around the flag pole in a horseshoe while the American flag was raised for the day.  At the end of the day, we stood around the flag pole again as the “colors” were retired for the day.  Being in the Color Guard that performed this ritual was a special privilege.  You could not be in the Guard until your last year of Brownie day camp.  I was excited when I reached that year.  I wanted to have a “real” camp job—-and being in the Color Guard was what I wanted.

One person was the Color Bearer or Flag Bearer.  She carried the flag.  She walked ahead of the four or six girls who were the Color Guard.  Guess which one I wanted to be?  Yep. I wanted to be the Color Bearer. Another person-generally a counselor-was in charge and announced the commands.

When all the camp buses arrived, the campers came directly to  the flag area and formed a large horseshoe.  Once everyone was there, we would raise our hands in the quiet sign and all talking ceased.  Then the announcer would say, “Girl Scouts, attention.” That meant that we were ready to start.  Next we heard, “Color Guard, advance.” The Color Bearer and the Color Guard would march forward in perfect step. (We practiced to make sure we were in perfect step.) When we reached the pole, the announcer said , “Color Guard, post the colors.”  Now we were at the tricky part.  The Color Bearer would pass the flag back to the guard so they could unfold it and have it ready to put up the pole.  While this was happening, the Color Bearer would pull the grommets down and have the first one ready to attach to the flag.  She would pull the rope up a bit and attach the second grommet to the flag.  The Color Guards were to hold the flag so that it NEVER touched the ground.  The Color Bearer pulled the flag up as the Color Guard saluted the flag.  Then the announcer would say, “Please join us in saying the Pledge of Allegiance.” And we did.  All of us.  With respectful voices.  The final step was to dismiss those who had touched the flag. The announcer said, “Color Guard dismissed.” Then we would turn and in perfect step, march out of the horseshoe.

The “retiring” of the colors at the end of camp was pretty much so a reversal of the morning except for one thing.  The Color Guard had to fold the flag.  It had to be done  perfectly.  I can not tell you how many times we practiced the folding of the flag into the perfect triangle.  This was also the scariest time because the flag could not touch the ground.  Never.  Ever.

As a Girl Scout, I followed the same ceremony for our flag.  As a Senior camping in Idaho with 4000 other Senior Scouts, I still followed this same ceremony, always showing honor and respect for this emblem of our country.

Today some folks do not want to show respect for our flag or even our country.  As for me, I will continue to honor the flag of our country.

“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  Proverbs 22:6