The Importance of Honor Guard “At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed 10,000 men to guard the past. “-Maurice Masterlinck. Being a volunteer member of a military base honor guard, there are numerous reasons that require full effort and dedication. It is important that we, ceremonial guardsmen, strive to stay true to the creed put forth for us. Respect, integrity, inspiration, professionalism and tradition are key to being an effective member of the honor guard. Millions of men and women have served in the armed forces before me and millions more will serve after.
Some have paid the ultimate sacrifice; some lost and captured, others received wounds, physically and or emotionally, and that time itself cannot heal. They put it all on the line for this free country. The men and women of the services are the only reasons why the United States of America is a free and powerful nation. How can you not respect the people that fought and are fighting to keep this nation free? Many people complain about working long hours, not getting enough sleep, taking care of their children etc. Deployed soldiers may and can work for days on end.
They don’t even know when they will receive food, yet again to have the time to eat it. Some are gone at the birth of their child and some never even get to meet them. As our fallen warriors come home, the least anyone should do is show respect to them and their mourning family and friends. No matter active duty, retiree or veteran, they deserve the uppermost respect from all. Honor guard members are present at veteran funerals upon request to provide honor and to give our condolences from the president, the military department and our nation for their duties and sacrifices made throughout their military career.
Having the opportunity to contribute back to them and their families is a great honor that I extremely respect. There are multiple duties a ceremonial guardsman can perform which require practicing. The quote from Vince Lombardi explains it all, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. ” Perfect practice cannot be accomplished without integrity within the individual and the team itself. If one messes up we all mess up. That being said, you cannot hide from your mistakes or be shy and not outspoken about it.
As a guardsman you have to accept the failure as you train and learn why and how you didn’t do it correctly so you don’t do it again. We practice constantly, day in and day out, and if we are not practicing we are performing details in which we have to know everything there is to come. We work as a team. The counting, the steps and pauses have to be completely synchronized. It all comes back to practice. The importance of being crisp, sharp and motionless together is crucial at any of the details performed in actuality and for practice.
We have to stay physically fit and emotionally stable to execute the movements properly while holding a casket for a funeral. If one cannot support themselves, we all fall. As a regulation while practicing, we have to complete certain tasks after roll call, before breaks, lunch and the end of the day that will keep us durable while supporting our part as a pallbearer. We, as a group, have to have the integrity to remind each other and perform these tasks as we are appointed to do so. Integrity in a ceremonial guardsman is one of the most important and vital characteristics to have.
Honor Guard is a completely voluntary-based organization provided by the different squadrons throughout the groups on base. Therefore each and every member has to have the inspiration and drive to give forth over a hundred percent in every duty, practice or detail. If a member of the team has no motive to give forth an effort, it makes it extremely difficult to be a team. Mess-ups won’t matter to the individual and he or she wont care whether or not the detail went on smoothly. No respect would be shown towards the grieving family and friends of the deceased veteran.
The honor guard would not be showing much honor due to one individual. That is why the inspiration and drive within a member, of any honor guard, is a must have distinctive trait. Military and professionalism go hand in hand when it comes to anything. As for honor guard, you have to have it due to the encounters of others in the communities such as, sadden families, funeral directors and your own team members. When they are performing a detail, they aren’t just representing themselves but the thousands and millions of the other brothers and sisters that have served or are serving in the military forces.
They are a direct reflection of the individual’s supervisor, the honor guard superintendent, the commanding officer, the base, and the branch in which they serve. We never know who and where people are watching from and yet who they are or who they know. No matter the type of ceremony, the size of the crowd, or the severity of the temperature will we not allow our performance of professionalism to be altered. We vowed to stand sharp, crisp and motionless and doing it properly will show the professionalism and experience. You cannot be or become a member of any honor guard without the discipline of being professional on or off duty.
Honor guard is honored in a full and rich tradition and history. The organization was first erected in September 1948 with the strength of 98 enlisted members and two officers. They were all a part of the air police squadron and were tasked to provide a ceremonial detachment to perform varies duties such as funerals, color guards and weddings. Flags on the caskets date back to pre-civil war days when the battlefield caskets were not available. The flags were used to wrap the body so that he could be buried. The tradition of the folding of the flag represents the two parts of life, our birth and death and our here and hereafter.
The thirteen stripes on the flag represent the thirteen original colonies, alternating red and white. The red meaning the blood and hardship of life and the white of the purity of goodness of the life lived. The fold of the tri-cornered shape represents a couple things, the reminiscent of the hats worn by the soldiers who fought and won the revolution for American independence and the Christians’ three in one of the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The red and white are folded into the fold so that the blue and stars are seen to remind us of heaven.
These traditions of the past honor guard duties and meanings still are applied today by their importance. “Since an intelligence common to us all makes things known to us and formulates them in our minds, honorable actions are ascribed by us to virtue, and dishonorable actions to vice; and only a madman would conclude that these judgments are matters of opinion, and not fixed by nature,” Marcus T. Cicero. As a volunteer member of a military base honor guard, having the characteristics described throughout the passage is a must. We have to be respectful to all others who we are serving and others in the premises.
Integrity is a must to be able to prefect all movements throughout every drill and ceremony. Members necessity of inspiration and the deep devotion to duty has to be put forth in front of everything, service before self. Standing tall and still, communicating with others you have to be professional, on and off duty. The honor guard and U. S. tradition will continue to be honored and passed down to all members of the honor guard organizations. Therefore it takes full dedication and effort to be a true and effective member of an honor guard association.