When I was in AFJROTC (’70-’83), we didn’t have scoopers right behind horse entries in a parade. They were the unsung heroes who brought up the very rear, just in front of the police car with the flashing lights signaling the end of the parade. This meant that everyone in the parade had to dodge, duck, dip, dive and… dodge certain remnants from our equine parade entries.
Now, scooper are placed throughout parades and are making a crummy job fun.
there should be people, sometimes Scouts, who clean up during the parade walking behind horse entries in parades. However, there is the possibility of encountering one or more situations where you and your team may need to either March through or around an obstacle. The choice is yours. Manure won’t ruin shoes, but it’s not nice stepping in it and carrying a certain amount down the road with you especially when you are in front of the public, the whole parade is your performance. But, that’s what we do: adapt overcome and carry on. On the other hand, the team always has the option of separating and individually moving around obstacles and then coming back together. That movement should be as slight as possible – no major movements.
A Firing Party fires a ceremonial Three-Volley salute using modern or traditional rifles (military), shotguns, or pistols (law enforcement). It is not the 21-Gun Salute, that is fired by guns (canons) and only in the Army and Navy.
The Numbers: Anywhere from three to seven members firing with a commander. The smaller amount of members on the team does not mean that more shots are fired.
The Rifles: Traditional rifles are the M1 Garand and, used most often, the M14. The reason for these two rifles being used is the charging handle. The M1903 has a bolt and is awkward to operate smoothly when loading each round. Modern rifles are the M16 and variations of it. Pump action shotguns provide a similar action as the M1 and M14 when loading the rounds.
The Stance: Neds to be solid. Do not bend at the waist and do not bend your knees. You can see both of these in the Soldiers in the picture below.
“Fires” is the keyword in the first paragraph. The team fires the Salute, it does not “shoot”. Shooting requires taking aim to hit your target. The Firing party does not have a target, it is firing blanks for the Salute and not going to hit anything.
While this is a non-standard stance for the Indiana State Police, you can see their use of shotguns for the team.
I understand the natural position of taking aim when having a rifle or shotgun in your hands a getting ready to fire the weapon. However, training must involve breaking this habit. It’s a ceremony and must be treated as such. There is a time to take aim and shoot and a time to fire. “Ready, Aim, FIRE!”
In the picture above, you can see how some of these Soldiers are taking aim while using a more modern rifle to fire the volleys.
A tattered or faded American Flag is ready for retirement. Retiring an American flag means to burn it. Some people feel that burning a flag, no matter the situation, is still disrespectful. In the flag retirement situation, nothing could be further from the truth.
Burning and Burning
There is a big difference! Americans, who love their country and flag, do not treat that flag with disrespect. We do not just throw it away in the garbage when it is no longer fit for everyday display. There are exceptions to this with historic tattered flags on display across the country. When the flag is no longer suitable for daily display, we take the flag, fold it into a rectangle, and burn it. Some Americans feel the need to burn our country’s flag because they are unable to form a cogent, coherent argument and need to stand on a corner in front of others and push their disrespectful agenda in the face of others by flying a burning American flag.
Side note: I support freedom of speech and some view burning our flag as just that. I will defend the right of people who want to act irresponsibly and burn our flag. I do not like the action, but I do not have to watch and I can treat flags in my charge with respect and care as I hope you will.
The difference? Respect has everything to do with it.
Flag Retirement the Wrong Way
If you cut the stars from the stripes, it’s not longer the American flag and you can then feel better about burning it. I guess that is the illogical reasoning behind this act of initial disrespect to the flag to avoid disrespect to the flag.
Boy and Girl Scouts and many veteran organizations across the country are practicing this disrespect to our flag.
I do not know when or where it started, but it needs to stop right now! We need to educate cadets and Scouts as well as our well-meaning veterans.
Recently, I read a reply to my comment on a social media account that stated ‘since a flag company says on their website that it is OK, we are going to cut our flags.
Flag Retirement, the Correct Way At home, make a fire on your grill. Fold your flag into a rectangle (no, it does not represent a casket) and place it on the fire. A flag folded into a triangle is much more difficult to burn due to all of the folded layers.
In a public ceremony, place the representative flag, folded in a triangle on a very hot fire and follow one of the ceremony guidelines linked below. Burn the rest of the flags eligible for retirement in an incinerator or a roaring fire, preferably not in public.
As you can see, no one has ever advocated cutting the canton (blue field) from the stripes. It is extremely disrespectful to do so and it does not matter what some flag-based website has to say as far as a recommendation. Not even this one. I am providing links to professional guidance set forth by groups with the intention of providing the utmost respect.
Cutting the First Stripe
The method of “cutting” the first stripe, used when a flag has been folded many, many times and is now stretched out to where it will not end up positioned properly for the tuck at the end, creates a very small initial triangle helping create more cloth for later folds.
Here is what the flag looks like before the triangle folds. The small fold to the left is only to show the two horizontal folds.
Pulling the Inside
At the last fold into the blue, which should look like the picture below, if the tip does not fall into the space within the two lines, it may be difficult to tuck at the end of folding.
If the tip does not fall in between those lines, back up one fold, pull the inside folds forward and continue. If the tip comes nowhere close to the blue, as pictured below right, accomplish the same procedure, without backing up a fold.
After finishing the triangle folds, make the last fold at an angle to give the right corner a little more cloth to tuck. It works very, very well for most every flag.
If you follow this blog, you know that I have tons of free resources as far as information in the articles and also downloadable content on the Downloads page. Well, here is another!
Click the link above to go to the Downloads page, scroll down to Law Enforcement and there you will find a PDF package that outlines a complete tetrad (4- or 5-man) exhibition routine! The rifle work is included in the form of YouTube links on each page! Granted, the rifle work is quite basic, but I wrote this for a sheriff’s office in Colorado who lost a member of their team and wanted to represent him at Police Week in Washington DC. It wasn’t designed to win first place at a world-class event, it was designed to help some grieving law enforcement officers represent a fallen brother.
Anyone can use this routine either as their own complete routine or as a primer to stimulate their creativity. It’s given to you free of charge, you may perform all, some or none of it!
This is the best way that I know how to train a team to consistently maintain alignment and distance.
When the platoon/flight falls in, they should always “dress and cover” without command. This is standard and if you are not doing this and relying on the commander to give commands, you are not falling in properly- this goes for every formation (drill team, color guard, etc.). The team members raise their left arms to get their distance to the left, alignment to the right and their distance to the front. When obtaining their distance to the front, each member must add six inches of space between the back of the person in front and their fingertips (squad/element leaders need only do this in line formation). When dressing to the right, each team member at the front (first element or element leaders- depending on the direction the team faces) must touch the fingertips of the member to their right and get their cover. Once the team achieves distance and alignment, they individually drop their arms assuming Attention.
In training, when marching the formation, every time you stop, always give the informational command, “dress and cover”. This is not the command to execute Dress Right, Dress, where everyone leaves their arms up, it is an informational command that requires every team member to obtain their distance and alignment. You must do this every single time the team halts- make it a habit. Eventually, the team members will have to move less and less as they begin to maintain proper alignment, and eventually, you will not need to tell them to dress and cover. It may take a while, depending on how often you practice and the team member’s experience, but the team will march at their proper distance all the time once they develop their visual memory. Visual memory (spatial relations) is just like muscle memory which enables you to repeat a movement almost exactly the same each time, but in the case of visual memory and for our purposes, you maintain your proper distances from other team members.