A flag ceremony honors the American flag as the symbol of our
country and all the hopes, dreams, and people it represents. If your
group includes girls from other countries, invite them to honor their
flags too, and together conduct an international flag ceremony. Flag
ceremonies may be used for:
- Opening or closing meetings
- Opening or closing
- Beginning or closing a day
a special occasion or special person
- Retiring a worn
Flag ceremonies may take place in meeting rooms, outdoor settings,
large auditoriums, onstage, or even on horseback. The American flag is
carried by a color guard for protection during a flag ceremony. All
flag ceremonies share one thing—respect for the flag.
Flag Ceremony Guidelines
Keep it simple. Emphasis needs to be on respect for the flag rather
than on the commands or techniques. Adults can ask girls these
questions when planning:
- Who will carry the flag?
- Who will the color guards
- Who will give the directions for the ceremony?
- What song will you sing? Who will sound the pitch and start the
- Will a poem or quotation be included? Who will say or
- After the Pledge of Allegiance, will the Girl
Scout Promise and Law be said?
- What order will the ceremony
- When will the group practice?
- Where will the
flags be placed at the end of the ceremony?
Terms Used in a Flag Ceremony
The color bearer (or flag bearer) is the person who carries the
flag. There is one color bearer for each flag used in the ceremony.
The color guard is a team that guards the flags. Any even number of
guards may be used, but usually four or six girls are sufficient.
The Girl Scout in charge (or caller) is a designated Girl Scout who
announces or calls each part of the ceremony.
Commands for a Flag Ceremony
"Girl Scouts, attention." Used to announce that the flag
ceremony is to begin.
"Color guard, advance." Signals the color guard to advance
with the flags or advance to pick up the flags.
"Color guard, post the colors." Directs the color guard to
place the flag in flag standards or to attach the grommets to a flag
"Color guard, honor your flag." Signals the color guard to
salute the American flag.
"Please join us in saying the Pledge of
Allegiance." Followed by an appropriate song, quotation, or poem,
if so desired.
"Color guard, retire the colors." Prompts the color guard
to remove the flag from standards or to lower the flag, detach it from
the rope, and fold it prior to being dismissed.
"Color guard, dismissed." Prompts the color guard to leave
in formation, with or without the flag.
"Girl Scouts, dismissed." Indicates girls may leave in
formation or be at ease where they have been standing.
Handling the Flag of the
United States of America
Display of the American flag is governed by law to ensure that it
will be treated with the respect due the flag of a great nation. This
is known as the United
States Flag Code. Some of the rules most useful for Girl Scouts are:
- The flag of the United States of America should be at the
center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags
of states (or localities or pennants of societies) are grouped and
displayed from staffs.
- When the flags are posted in stands or raised on a pole, the
American flag is always kept higher than other flags, so it is
placed in its stand after other flags are lowered into their
standards, or it is raised up a pole first. When it’s time to
retire the colors, the American flag is taken out of its stand first
so it remains the highest flag at all times.
- The flag, when carried in a procession with other flags,
should be either on the marching right or, if there is a line of
other flags, in front of the center of that line.
- When you display the flag on a wall or in a window where
people can see it from the street, it should appear flat with the
blue part at the top and on the flag's own right (which is the
- When displayed after dark, the flag should be
- The flag is to be hoisted briskly and lowered slowly, with
- The flag should never be allowed to touch anything beneath it,
nor should it ever be carried flat or horizontally—always aloft and
- Never use the flag as a cover or place anything on top of
- No disrespect of any kind should be shown to the flag of the
United States. It should be kept clean.
Retiring a Worn American Flag
Retiring a flag is a special ceremony that ends with burning the
flag and disposing of the ashes in a respectful manner. For further
information, check with council program staff.