Thursday, February 14, 2002

Take time to honor the flag during colors

Photo by JO2 Ellen Maurer

SK3 Shawn Glen hoists the ensign during morning Colors at NNMC, while HN William Kearns renders proper honors with a salute. Both Glen and Kearns are currently assigned to the Command Duty Office.

Twenty-one-year-old HN Ivanova Gutierrez, a section leader at the Command Duty Office (CDO), has been in the Navy since she was 17 and was stationed aboard two Navy ships as an undesignated seaman before becoming a corpsman and getting assigned to NNMC. Now, part of her job is choosing two CDO Sailors each morning to perform the morning and evening colors ceremony, the hoisting of the national ensign at 8 a.m. and lowering at sunset.

Gutierrez says finding people to perform colors is not difficult, but that, more and more, she and others in her crew are noticing that some people don't take time to render honors properly.

Gutierrez says the reason some people don't participate may be that they don't know what they're supposed to do if they are outside when colors is taking place. Others may feel they are caught outside and off guard, not realizing that colors is always a twice-a-day routine.

"Morning colors are always promptly at 8 a.m. The time that we'll hold evening, or sunset, colors is put out in the plan of the day," she explains. "Besides, you always get a five minute warning before we actually start with the bugle during first call to colors."

According to the Navy's Bluejackets' Manual, during colors everyone within sight or hearing renders honors. Military members in uniform who are outside must cease work, face the colors, and salute until the last note of the anthem.

Although, with traditional ceremonies like colors, proper protocol is not only an issue of military bearing but also of everyday American respect. According to Gutierrez, you're still required to stop and pay attention during morning and evening colors, whether you wear the uniform or not.

"Even if you're a civilian, you still have to stop," explains Gutierrez "Who ever you are, if you're on base, you must render honors to colors."

The Bluejackets' Manual states that those wearing civilian clothes or athletic gear stop and face the colors at attention. If a hat is worn, it should be held in the right hand, over the heart. If no hat is worn, salute by holding the right hand over the heart.

A woman in civilian clothes, with or without a hat, stands at attention and places her right hand over heart. Drivers of motor vehicles pull over and stop if traffic safety permits.

"This is all stuff I learned in boot camp," adds Gutierrez. "We should all know and do the right thing."