Flag Ceremonies


The Color Guard of Honor

The purpose of the Color Guard of Honor is to protect the flag. Because this requires full attention, the members do not participate in any part of the flag ceremony (singing, speaking, etc.), but stand silently “At Attention”

The Color Guard may consist of any number. Ideally there should be at least two Color Guards for each flag. The minimum is one Color (Flag) Bearer and one Color Guard

Color (or Flag) Bearer - One per flag, if more than one flag is present. Hold staff (pole) at 30° angle in front of body, or hold folded flag (with point away from body) in front of body at waist level. May wear red sash over right shoulder, tied in a square knot on left side of waist. Is responsible for putting flag in, or taking flag from, stand, or raising/lowering flag from flagpole

Color Guards - Stand on each side of the Color Bearer. Watch to see that the flag does not touch the ground. May wear red sash around waist tied in a square knot on left side. One or more members may assist flag bearer in posting/retrieving the flag from the stand/pole.

Caller - Only member of Color Guard to speak. Gives directions to audience and commands to Color Guard. May wear red sash, same as Color Guard.

Line Leaders - Usually part of an outdoor Color Guard. Lead the audience into/out of the desired formation (usually a horseshoe in GS).

Flashlight Flag Ceremony

Equipment/People Needed

Narrator (one, or more if your troop is large)
Four Flashlight Bearers (candles may be substituted)
Flag Bearer and Color Guard(s)

Color Guard advances with Flag and posts Colors. Lights are turned out so that the room is in total darkness. Flashlight bearers turn on flashlights (or light candles) and direct light toward flag.

NARRATOR: What you see here tonight represents the past, present, and future. The stripes of Old Glory stand for the original thirteen colonies. The stars represent the present 50 states. The light and warmth of the four lights you see shining remind us of the four great freedoms - Freedom of the Press, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion. Eliminate any one of these freedoms and our world would become darker and colder.

Narrator calls out the four freedoms slowly. As each is called a flashlight is turned off until the room is again in total darkness.

1. Freedom of the Press
2. Freedom of Assembly
3. Freedom of Speech
4. Freedom of Religion

NARRATOR: In this world of potential cold and darkness, of rule by a few, stands the United States of America. Here the Four Freedoms do exist and are an example of warmth and light for all. Will you please join us in the salute to our flag? (Turn flashlights back on and direct light toward flag)

All join in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Flag Retirement Ceremony

When the U.S. Flag becomes tattered or worn, it should be disposed of by burning.

Here are the basics for a Flag retirement ceremony. Appropriate songs and/or readings may be added.

1. Lower the flag from the pole (or remove it from the staff) and carry it to the fire site.
2. Place the stars (as the audience sees them) in the upper left hand corner. This is an appropriate reading to start the ceremony:

“Remember as you look at the Flag, it is the symbol of our nation, it is red because of human sacrifice; blue because of the true blue loyalty of its defenders; and white symbolizes liberty - our land of the free. The stars are symbols of the united efforts and hope in the hearts of the many people striving to keep America great.”

3. Cut the field of blue from the stripes - have someone hold onto this piece.
4. Next, cut each stripe from the “whole” and lay each piece, one at a time, across the flames. These are some ideas for appropriate readings for each stripe:

First Stripe - "The thirteen stripes stand for the thirteen original colonies which are: Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island."
Second Stripe - "The white stands for purity"
Third Stripe - "The red stands for courage"
Fourth Stripe - "Give me liberty or give me death"
Fifth Stripe - "One if by land, two if by sea"
Sixth Stripe - "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution on the United States of America."
Seventh Stripe - "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
Eighth Stripe - "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Ninth Stripe - "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or press."
Tenth Stripe - "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
Eleventh Stripe - "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state because they are female."
Twelfth Stripe - "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
Thirteenth Stripe - "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

5. After all the stripes have been burned, the field of blue is laid on the fire - all are silent until the entire piece burns to ash.
6. Out of respect, nothing should ever be added to the ceremonial fire after the Flag has been retired.
7. The ceremony ends with everyone departing in silence.
8. After the ashes have cooled, they should be buried.

Please remember, this is a very solemn ceremony and should be done with the utmost respect and reverence for the flag to be retired.
It might also be noted that you need to explain this ceremony thoroughly to the girls so that they don’t go home and tell their parents that they “burned a flag at Girl Scouts".