Troop 1911 debuted its Honor Guard Saturday October 3rd at Missoula’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the Southgate Mall. Five scouts, including a caller, two guards and two flag bearers, marched in unison to present the colors for a live rendition of “God Bless America”. Dressed in full Class A uniform, donning white gloves, and sporting a white fleur de lis patch on their sleeve, these young men represented scouting in Montana.
Scouts have a reputation for knowing flag etiquette, which is why organizations will often call on them to lead ceremonies. This summer alone, Troop 1911 has served at the American Legion flag retirement, the September 11th “Never Forget” service, the Northwest Polygraph Examiners Association, and the Missoula Symphony Orchestra.
Scoutmaster Eric Henderson proposed organizing a formal Honor Guard for the troop in late summer, 2021. Troop Committee Chair Brandon McHenry, trained in military Honor Guard formation and ceremony, agreed to instruct the Guard in marching, flag etiquette, and presentation. A recent anonymous gift was just enough to cover brand new carrying poles, complete with toppers, holsters, flags, and white gloves. Add in eight scouts, and the Honor Guard was set for service.
Scouts were eager to volunteer for the job. “I’ve always appreciated the American spirit, and I will often point out flags on display to my mom,” said Ari M. “So, when the Troop formed an Honor Guard, I knew I had to join.”
The Troop aims for 1-2 events per month, realizing that not everyone will be available for every ceremony. “We wanted to have a solid group of trained individuals available at a moment’s notice,” said McHenry. “We practice marching, formations, and presentations for about an hour a month, usually before meetings.” These practices happen whether there is anything on the calendar or not, just to keep scouts’ skills fresh for when the time comes.
Henderson hopes the Guard will not only solidify Scouting’s reputation in the community, but also generate interest in membership. “I was talking with a camp staffer this summer who said his troop was about 75 scouts. That’s a large troop. Many had become involved because the troop had a strong Honor Guard. Youth in the community would see scouts perform a flag ceremony and want to join!”
If your organization would like to request a flag ceremony, please contact the troop at [email protected] to get on our calendar. The service is offered free of charge.