You may have been at a sporting event such as a basketball or football game; waiting for the coin toss, when you spot a group moving down the field or court moving in a synchronized manner, carrying flags, rifles, and a saber. Perhaps you were at a parade or military ball celebrating our freedom when you see a group making their way down the center with the American flag held high, as well as a state and or branch flag in support of riflemen. These men and women in crisp, well-kept uniforms that bear our nations’, states’, and branches’ flags, guarded by rifles are the color guard.
The history of the color guard has its roots in unit standards which, during the course of wars, would receive honors for participating in battles. Flags served as a rallying points for units to gather around. Color guards first formed to protect these standards from being captured and later evolved into a formal presentation of the colors in sporting events, parades, balls, and graduations to signify the spirit of the country. When the cadets first begin practicing, they learn the basics of hand grips, arm lengths, and head placement. Once they learn the basics, they then practice what they have learned to the point that they move in unison together. Next, they practice marching, keeping in step, performing columns, flanks, and wheels so that they can maneuver however the location of event is laid out. They do this training as they are to be the best representation of the ROTC unit as well as the Army in presenting the colors.
However, despite all of the seriousness, color guard is a fun team to participate in. The practices helps build a camaraderie that is a product of the level of synchronization the team builds together. During drives to different event locations, cadets tell stories of what happened during their day, the week, and from their past, helping each other to understand personal backgrounds that others have not heard of. You begin to depend on each other and grow into a smaller family that not only has unit and branch cohesion, but a love and friendship built upon the presentation of the colors. — CDT Jeffrey Canterbury, MS3