Feb 23, 2014 - Cubmaster Chrispy
There are several flaws with this ceremony. Namely, the state and pack colors should be "posted" first. The American flag should always be posted last. Also, those in attendance should hold their salutes until the colors are posted.
Mar 26, 2014 - Neal Swartzmiller
The comment by Cubmaster Chrispy is incorrect. The US flag is always the first to be raised (or posted) and the last to be lowered (or reteived). Review this official site of flag etiquette...specifically this section where mutiple flags are displayed:
Apr 09, 2014 - Patricia Johnson
I can't find an answer for this situation anywhere and I have been searching the internet. What do I do with a Scout that that has a totally immovable arm (full arm cast-can't move it at all))when it comes to saluting? And what do I do if I ever get an amputee or paralyzed scout regarding saluting? In the case of the Scout with the cast he wanted to salute the flag, couldn't, and asked if he could use his left arm. Any answers?
Apr 09, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Patricia - There's nothing wrong with him simply standing at attention while the others salute. If he prefers to salute with his left arm, that is ok. Whichever way feels most comfortable to him.
Either way, someone might question it, but the only current guideline is to salute with the right arm. So, precise interpretation would be if there's no right arm, no salute can be done.
May 20, 2014 - Ranger Rick
Out of curiosity, does the BSA allow rifle bearers in a color guard?
May 22, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Rick - Are there other non-military groups that would have rifles in a flag procession? I have only seen them in military processions.
How does having Scouts bear arms in this manner support any of the Aims or Methods of Scouting?
I don't see the tie-in between rifle bearing and Scouting and would not do it.
May 26, 2014 - Hunter Deal
I've seen rifles carried by Boy Scouts in a color guard procession, but there was a naval lieutenant there leading and supervising it. Also they wouldn't have been real working rifles, they would have been dummy rifles that are made to be carried and spun.
May 26, 2014 - Ranger Rick
@Scouter Paul - I didn't think that it would be allowed. I ask because there's some guy from the church where my troop is chartered who insists that rifles belong in a Boy Scout color guard. He's been "training" several of the scouts in my troop and quite frankly, I don't think it's very appropriate to be imposing military drill on scouts who are barely 16. I'm not anti-military by any means, I have a long history of Marines and Sailors in my family and I'm working on enlisting in the Navy myself. However, military drill belongs in the military and not scouts. This isn't 1912. Thanks!
May 26, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Rick - Your views sound reasonable to me. Good luck!
Jul 01, 2014 - @Ranger Rick
It was my understanding that Baden Powell didn't call them the Boy "Scouts" for nothing. Scouts learn bushcraft, cooking, rifle and bow shooting, patriotism, reverence, etc. All qualities desired in the dangerous role of a military scout. Note that picnics aren't as popular as "Capture the Flag". That said, it should not be the ROTC either.
Jul 14, 2014 - Scouter John
Aug 01, 2014 - Scouter Dale
Quote from BSA: "The wearing of special helmets, scarves, gloves, unofficial leggings, and the carrying of ceremonial guns or swords by members of such organizations using the uniforms of the Boy Scouts of America is in violation of the Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America."
The ONLY place a firearm is allowed with Scouts is on a firing range. Period. Fake firearms or swords are not part of a Scout uniform. Ranger Rick and others above have said that this isn't the JROTC. If they want to do a color guard with rifles, tell them to join the local JROTC and leave off making the BSA into a junior training camp for military. It isn't.
Aug 01, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Dale - Hey, thanks for sharing that page address! My search for rifles and firearms missed that.
Sep 23, 2014 - Cubmaster Steve
This isn't the military, so rifles are inappropriate. However, a Guard for the flags is completely appropriate (even in the military). When the colors are to be posted in a church/synagogue/place of worship, the carrying of weapons is completely inappropriate...tack on the regulations quoted above and we're pretty much outside of carrying weapons under any circumstances. While it's neat, it IS prohibited and we shouldn't do it.
The question of a scout salute when an arm is bandaged/incapacitated boils down to "do your best". I wouldn't expect someone confined to a wheelchair to stand. If someone is attempting to honor the flag and they are not being disrespectful, leave 'em alone :-)
Sep 23, 2014 - Anthony
The restriction on gun carry cited by Scouter Dale is targeted to outside organizations Drill teams, clubs, etc. wearing BSA uniforms to perform their ceremonies.
Basically the BSA does not want outside organizations showing up, donning BSA uniforms, and doing their ceremonies.
The uniform guide does NOT say that BSA members cannot use a ceremonial rifle to perform a flag ceremony. If that was the intent of the guide the language would have clearly said so. It does not.
Baden Powell was a military man and set up an military oriented Scouting organization. They used and sponsored rifle use as part of ceremonies in his time and it has long continued. The uniform guide does not restrict the use by BSA members but to outside organizations wearing BSA uniforms. If your not precise you don't see the difference but it is clear in the language and obviously important because it answers the question. Yes, ceremonial rifles can be carried by BSA members in uniform.
Sep 23, 2014 - Scouter Paul
@Anthony - The only people specifically allowed to wear the BSA uniform are registered BSA members. So, no "outside organization" would be wearing it.
The portion of the Insignia Guide referenced by Scouter Dale is specifically directed at BSA members that are "members of bands, drill teams, or drum and bugle corps affiliated with a unit or a local council".
That means, for example, Troop 58's Drum and Bugle Corps is supposed to wear their BSA uniform when performing, and they are not to carry guns or swords. Since these BSA-affiliated teams are not permitted to carry ceremonial rifles, I would use that same guidance for flag ceremonies and all other BSA activities.
The only instance I'm aware of in which BSA members can use simulated firearms is when participating in historical re-enactments.
Oct 01, 2014 - Dale
Get your ideals of a military BSA out of here. This is NOT a military organization.
Point 1: According to the Shooting Sports Manual, firearms are only allowed within the BSA at a shooting range and at sponsored range-only events.
Point 2: The uniform code does not allow weapons.
Point 3: The BSA's goals, as stated on their site, is to "...prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law." Don't see anything about training military there.
Point 4: Do Scout Shops sell ceremonial rifles or weapons? No.
Point 5: Tradition does not equal right. Just because someone did it when you were a Scout doesn't mean you should do it.
It all boils down to the final question: WHY? Why does a 13 year-old need to carry a rifle, simulated or not, when honoring our flag?
As Paul and the BSA has said: There is no allowance for weapons in the BSA outside of the range. Simple. Any inclusion is extraneous.
Oct 09, 2014 - Matthew
As a returning scout [I.E. eagle returning to lead] I have seen both scenarios in AUTHORIZED BSA functions [ 2001 National Jamboree there was a ceremonial color guard, west point also had one at the jamborees held there ]. Scouting IS based on traditions, so to say that traditions do not equal right does not hold in my book. Scouting was born here in america to teach children how to become leaders and men. During the big wars they were instrumental in gathering scrap materials. They were and now still are a place to groom leaders, whether in the board room or on the battle field. Some troops are more military based then others, I have been in both. If you do not like or agree with the way the BOYS run their troop change troops or stay home. The whole boy scout system is based on BOY run troops, NOT adult run troop.
Oct 20, 2014 - Ken Harris
I would like to know why BSA does not wear hats while on a color guard duty. Ive been in the military for 20 yrs. and I know BSA is not the military but there is a reason to be covered wether indoors or outdoors when on a color guard detail.
Oct 30, 2014 - Troy Schwable
I have a couple of answers to some questions in this blog, 1st, from CubMaster Chrispy, it was pointed out that you were incorrect about the posting, I would also like to point out that rendering a salute to the flag as it enters the door and passes the audience is in fact correct. Honors are rendered to a flag on a staff as it is considered to be "Flying" and as it moves the hand salute is to be rendered. You are confusing a folded flag that gets saluted after the color guard has advanced and is preparing to hoist the colors.
2nd. Ken Harris, there are courses in BSA that teach cover outside and no cover under cover. NYLT and NYALE teach this protocol. However, since Scout uniforms are not provided to the youth of units, we try not to force them to buy items that don't contribute to the program. And I was in the military and a Guidon Bearer and on the silent rifle drill corps. Only the rifle corps wore cover under cover.
Nov 01, 2014 - Dale
The BSa has answered this question. Their website states:
"Except for law enforcement officers required to carry firearms within their jurisdiction, firearms shall not be brought on camping, hiking, backpacking, or other Scouting activities except those specifically planned for target shooting under the supervision of a currently certified BSA national shooting sports director or National Rifle Association firearms instructor."
So to recap: no. It is not allowed. And anyone who does is violating BSA policy. Firearms have only ONE purpose in Scouting: to teach marksmanship. Anything else is why shooting at human targets is a no-no and paintball and laser tag is too.
Nov 09, 2014 - Adam
This is a good discussion. I have not researched the issue, so I don't know what the answer is. However, the Boy Scouts differentiate between firearms and simulated firearms. See, e.g., www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/GSS/gss08.aspx. They mean different things. You are misinterpreting a term of art -- "firearm." You are absolutely correct, you cannot carry a functioning firearm on camping, hiking, etc. as specified in the passage cited by you. Pretty common sense in most situations. However, that does not address the question regarding simulated firearms, which the non-firing ceremonial rifles would be. To make it clear, a firearm would be capable of firing a projectile. Those drill simulated rifles cannot.
A logical reading of the Unauthorized and Restricted Activities section would be that several limits were placed on the use of "firearms," but the only limit placed on "simulated firearms" would be that they could not be pointed at people. YiS
Jan 19, 2015 - Feliscia
Are Scouts required to wear the uniform while participating in a flag ceremony. We've had several incidents when a den performs a flag ceremony while some of the boys are NOT in uniform. Im under the impression that you must be in full uniform in order to participate but I can't find anything specific to support that. Is there any clear guideline from BSA that support this?
Jan 19, 2015 - Scouter Paul
Jan 21, 2015 - Feliscia
Scouter Paul, thank you for the post and the link. It was helpful however my question was more regarding participation in a flag ceremony. I suppose that may be a civic matter that I should ask the VA about. Or maybe there are no restrictions on dress code while participating in the ceremony?
Jan 21, 2015 - Scouter Paul
@Feliscia - If a group of scouts is performing a flag service for some other organization, such as VA, city council, high school football game, ... then that is a perfect time to look sharp and wear the uniform. There is no BSA-specific requirement that a uniform be worn, but the organization can certainly request (or require) that all scouts be in uniform in order to be part of their ceremony.
The complete uniform includes socks, pants, belt, and shirt so you might ask the organization requesting the ceremony how much of that uniform they require - so that scouts don't show up in just the BSA shirt thinking that was good enough.
Jan 21, 2015 - Beverly Cook
I like your pages. I use your ideas often. We do scout reach and run 5 packs every week.
Jan 27, 2015 - Mark Barfield
Mar 13, 2015 - KWEST
Is there anywhere in the official BSA website scouting.org that explains how to do a flag ceremony in the manner that the Boy Scouts of America wants it to be done? I find this detail very lacking. You would think this information would be easy to find.
Mar 14, 2015 - Scouter Paul
@kwest - There is no specific, absolute manner in which to perform a flag ceremony. Scouts can create their own respectful ceremony or use scripts that others have created.
There is a BSA pamphlet discussing flag etiquette at the official BSA online store - ScoutStuff.org
May 13, 2015 - Rick
Saluting with Left hand: A soldier can salute with the left hand when the right hand
is encumbered in some way, for example, a soldier with a rifle at Right Shoulder
Arms; if movement of a weapon would be encumbered when making the armed
salute; if the performance of duty requires the right hand for use or operation of
equipment such as riding a motorcycle; if it is not possible to use the hand due to
injury or amputation; when escorting a woman and it is not possible to walk on her
Jun 01, 2015 - Gloria
Looking for authoritative guidance on saluting. I've always learned and taught Scouts that when the flags are posted (or raised) that the flag detail render a salute and say the Pledge of Allegiance with the group. I've recently joined a troop that has the flag detail just stand there at attention with no salute or speaking. Couldn't find definitive guidance on which is correct. Note: the Scouts have placed the flags in stands so their hands are free. If they were to hold the colors while the pledge was said, THEN place them in their holders, Id understand standing at attention and not speaking but this is not the case. Thanks.
Sep 07, 2015 - RickK
According to the official BSA flag ceremony, the US flag should be posted last.
Sep 08, 2015 - april
Question -- so if the color guard advances, post the colors and
stand guard ... do they "honor their colors" before or after the
oath and law are recited or are they standing at attention the
Sep 08, 2015 - Scouter Paul
@april - In this example ceremony, the scouts would be holding the
flag poles through the recitations and would not participate.
Their job is to 'protect' the flags, not be a part of the
audience. They post the flags, do a quick salute, and join the
Nov 15, 2015 - Bob
My question is what order should the flags be displayed once
posted? From the audiences perspective that is. I cant seem to
find a definitive description on it. Some say the American flag in
the center when flown with multiple flags and others keep it to
the right at all times. We want to use the American, State and
Nov 15, 2015 - Scouter Paul
@Bob - There is a definitive BSA pamphlet for flag etiquette at
the official BSA online store - ScoutStuff.org.
The U.S. Flag
is posted on the audience's left.
I have an online review at this
Feb 17, 2016 - Gary
Many years ago, when I an Army ROTC cadet in college, I was
asked to put together a color guard for a court of honor
for the troop where I had previously made Eagle Scout. What
we did was have four fully uniformed scouts (neckerchiefs,
red berets, and leggings) march like a military honor
guard, the two on the inside carried the flags, the ones on
the outside just marched on the flanks (no rifles). On the
commands "reverse colors- march" the honor guard re-
positioned itself to face the audience, the troop flag was
lowered and the national anthem was played. The scouts on
the outside simply did a scout salute and then they posted
the flag and retreated. At the conclusion, they did the
reverse and retrieved the colors and walked out. Parents
and scouts loved it. There was, however, some joker from
District who said it might be "too" military. We just
ignored him. This was in the early 1980s.
Mar 31, 2016 - Lincoln
Are there rules/restrictions/guidelines about doing a flag
ceremony at an event held by a private business? A local business
has invited our Troop to do a flag ceremony at a "Community
Champions Award Dinner." Seems okay to me, but I could imagine
rules prohibiting anything that seems like support of a private
business. They offered to make a donation to the Troop, which
also seems a little questionable.
Apr 25, 2016 - Luci Benavides
Jun 14, 2016 - Chris Meredith
Recently there has been talk amongst the parents in my son's
boy scout troop about bringing in more of a military style
within the meetings of the troop, and we all agreed that we
did not want this type of troop for our kids. That was months
ago, and we thought the idea had blown over. Well, my son
told me at tonight's meeting, pretty much all they did was
learn how to march. I was shocked!! Is this a normal part of
being a scout and I just wasn't aware? Do other boy scout
troops do this? I think it's a complete waste of time.
Jun 15, 2016 - Scouter Paul
@Chris - No troops that I've been involved with, nor visited,
did any marching or drilling. The Senior Patrol Leader and his
Patrol Leader Council should be deciding the style of their
troop, within the BSA guidelines, rules, and regulations - which
are very lax in this area. Adults deciding to have the scouts
march is not Boy Scouting.
As a parent, you should be attending
the troop's committee meetings to stay abreast of what the adult
leaders are discussing. ALL parents should be welcome at any
unit meeting, not as participants but as silent observers. And,
minutes from committee meetings should be distributed to all
families in the troop.
If you'd like to affect the direction
of the troop, then you can volunteer for an adult position in
the troop and increase your influence.
I would agree that
spending meetings marching is a waste of time unless the troop
is practicing for some presentation, such as a parade.
Jul 02, 2016 - Chris Meredith
Thank you for answering!! Sorry it took so long to answer
back..we go to every meeting, but don't take part in the
committee meetings..that's a great point! We will have to
become more involved with that. Thank you!!
Jul 21, 2016 - Lars L Bilyeu
I am sad to see the politics in this discussion group. It is
sounding more like a Liberal left wing discussion than members
of the Boy Scouts of America. The prejudice against firearms and
honor guards as well as the prejudice against anything military
is a sad reflection of how America has given up the traditions
that made it great. It is not a dishonor to have military
traditions in scouting. Please don't forget that it was the boys
who convinced Baden Powel to start scouting because of their
interest in Military and outdoor adventures. There will always
be military order and appearance scouting...well...maybe
not...if liberals have their way...But, I will always be proud
of my scouting and military experiences. Some scouting training
helped keep me alive. Would you take that away from your boys?
Jul 21, 2016 - Scouter Paul
@Lars - I think it's good that you find pride in memories of your
scouting and military experience. I've seen no comments here
deriding military, nor promoting any political view. Yours is the
first to mention "left" or "right" wing.
People have asked about
saluting, carrying rifles, marching, and flag posting order - all
looking for clarification on what is ok or correct within the
framework of the BSA. That is the sort of discussion I hope
continues to happen on Boy Scout Trail.
Sep 18, 2016 - Heather
Can anyone tell me what the "two" command is for?
Sep 19, 2016 - Brian B
@Heather. The "two" command is to let audience know they may stop saluting the flag.
Sep 22, 2016 - Chris
@Heather. Legend has it that Baden Powell taught the salute in two steps. One was to sign to salute and two was to drop the salute. As time went on they kept the "two" as the command to drop the salute.
Oct 04, 2016 - Scouterman Don
There is NO place for Boy Scouts to be using a rifle in the color guard service. In fact
the Guide to Safe Scouting and National Shooting Sports Committee state how a rifle is
to be handled period. So no boy scout should be handling a rifle period when not on an
approved BSA range. And do not say anything about simulating firing as boys are
taught to never fire into the air. The only "scouts" I could see doing this would be those
in a Explorer Law Enforcement Post or maybe a JROTC unit paired with a troop.
Remember possession of a rifle or display in public may be regulated by state laws. In
CA no one can possess a rifle under the age of 18, nor can you display it in public. Lets
not forget that BSA has now banned use of airsoft and Nerf and marshmallow shooters
so why would they allow carrying any likeness of a rifle?
Oct 07, 2016 - Heather
Thank you, Brian B and Chris!
Now, does anyone know definitively, for the BSA at least,
whether the US flag is posted/retrieved before or after the State and Pack flags?
pack has one flag holder/base with three spots, the center being vertical and the side arms
slightly angled outwards so there we don't "cross the flags," is there a proper procedure for
bearing the flags from the center aisle to stage left (where the flag base stands)?
Oct 07, 2016 - Scouter Paul
@Heather - US Flag is first raised and last lowered.
If your 3-
flag stand causes the center flag to be higher than the 2 on the
sides, then the US Flag should be posted in the center position.
If they are all the same height, the US Flag should be posted in
the left-most position, from the audience's view.
I think the
simplest way to bear the flags to the stand would be to have the
US Flag go first, followed by State, and then Pack.
Oct 09, 2016 - Heather
Thanks, Scouter Paul!
Jan 27, 2017 - Jim
can anyone give me the reference to BSA rules for not using
artificial rifles in the color guard? I need the exact BSA rule
for my Committee.
Jan 29, 2017 - Scouter Paul
@Jim - The closest reference you'll probably find is Here. If you find anything
else, please share.
Oct 03, 2017 - James Duerr
The complexity with when to post the US flag seems to relate to
whether the flags are being posted, or raised. If posted, then the
US flag should be posted last (based on everything I can find) so
that it is always higher than any other flag. If being raised then
it should be raised first (with the same reasoning).
the US flag should always be higher (or as high) as every other
flag, so depending on method of posting depends on whether it's
first, or last.
Oct 11, 2017 - Scouter Paul
@James - I'd love to see your reference for your statement because
it's the first I've seen it. Usually, raising, posting, hoisting,
are all used interchangeably and the US Flag goes first.
Mar 05, 2018 - LopatoG
Question on bringing 2 flags (US and Troop) to the front/stage and
crossing before the stage. What is the meaning of “crossing in
front”? I've seen it taught both ways, 1. That the US flag is
never blocked from view of the stage. And 2., the US Flag is never
blocked from the view of the audience, back of the room. From
experience, I believe #2 is the correct method. Thx Jerry
Mar 05, 2018 - Scouter Paul
@LopatoG - The US flag goes first. So, if the state and troop
flags stop and the US flag moves from the right to the left (from
the audience view) ahead of them, the state and troop flags are
between the audience and the US flag. So, that would be your #1
Apr 29, 2018 - T Allen
As of 2008 veterans and others not in uniform may render a hand salute. Please up date your website. www.military.com/flag-day/rules-for-saluting-us-flag.html
Apr 30, 2018 - Garth Ripley
Good morning. In the eighth step and the eleventh
step of your flag ceremony protocol the word should be "to" not
"two". In this protocol the word "to" is an adverb showing the
desired position as in the example "- - - the door was blown
to", indicating the action was closed or ended.
I have read
several books about Lord Robert Stephenson Baden-Powell and I
have portrayed him on many occasions, viz. Courts of Honor and
Camps-O-Ree, etc. I have never read, nor heard, of him having
two parts of the flag ceremony.
Aug 02, 2018 - Jonathan Platt
@Garth, actually 'two' is the correct term. You can read
about the ceremony at the site below, but basically the
saluting of the flag is a two-step process. "One" can be
used where we often say "Scout Salute" or similar, and then
"Two" indicates returning the hand to attention stance.
Aug 02, 2018 - Clark
If the Scout Flag Ceremony is derived from Military flag
Ceremonies, then the correct word is "Two". Per the Marine Drill
and Ceremony Manual - "Ready" is the preparatory signal (to alert
the group that a command is coming), and "Two" being the command
to drop the salute. Scout Flag Ceremonies do not always have the
Prepetory signal, but "Two" is the correct term to drop or end the
Oct 13, 2018 - David Mathews
In my wolf den leader guide (2018 printing) it does contain a step
by step indoor flag ceremony that may be the preferred BSA way.
The US flag is posted last after the den flag and is also retrieved
first when retiring the colors. Also the flag bearers and color guard
do not say the pledge of allegiance and only salute after they have
posted the flags and just before retiring the flags. I made a big deal
about how important a job the color guard had to protect that flag
with my wolf den and I think it was very effective.
Jan 12, 2019 - Rhonda Cancelli
I always remember it this way the American flag should always be on
it's own right that means no other flag should be right of the
Whoever is carrying the American flag should not
have a flag to his/her right.
May 14, 2020 - Susan Grunenwald
I have a Parent that wants to be a uniformed Leader. They said
they will not recite the pledge of allegiance due to personal
reasons. Leaders are a role model to the Scouts they serve in
teaching the principles and ways of Scouting. We all tend to put
some of our personal opinions aside to teach the basic principles
of Scouting. Based on my research saying the Pledge these days is
a hot topic.Advice here? thanks
Feb 17, 2021 - Cubmaster Jeff
Cubmaster Chrispy stated the U.S. flag is last to post. The U.S. Flag is
1st then the pack or troop flag follows. Also a helpful tip the U.S. flag
will fly higher then any other flag being posted.
Feb 17, 2021 - Cubmaster Jeff
Susan Grunenwald If a parent or family does not want to recite the pledge
or participate in any religious events thats ok. A scout is reverent. And
being reverent goes both ways. They should focus on teaching the young
scouts how to be good citizens in the community without jeopardizing a
scouts own believes. If this leader can be a positive role model and help
lead the way i say go for it. But if this leader cant or will not follow
the scout law i would suggest for that leader to find a new unit that fits
his personal believes.
Mar 17, 2021 - Anonymous Boy Scout
Thank you everyone! This really clears up some issues with my
troop's past flag ceremonies. Have a good day!
Sep 14, 2022 - Duarte Bobone
Should we wear our BSA medals to flag ceremony if we are an
Sep 16, 2022 - Scouter Paul
@Duarte - you can if you want, but it is not typically done. Medals (up
to 5 at a time) are usually reserved for special events, and the square
knot on the uniform shows that the Scouter has that award in day-to-day
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