Topic: US Armed Forces
Discipline and Respect for the Colors
Home Lessons for New Army Men (Lesson No. 21, of 30)
Spokane Daily Chronicle, Spokane, Washington, 21 September 1917
"All persons in the military service are required to obey strictly and to execute promptly the lawful orders of their superiors." (Army regulations, paragraph 1.)
Discipline is not merely an obligation imposed upon you; it is a protection to you. Your superiors, from the commanding general down, are just as much bound to respect the regulations of the army as you are; this includes respect for the rights of every soldier.
Discipline is the necessary rule of life in the army and is not in the least inconsistent with your own pride and self-respect as a citizen and a soldier.
Remember, also, that there are certain restrictions upon the relation of officers and men which are a necessary part of army discipline. An officer, even though in private life he may be your warm friend and associate, is expected not to mingle with you or other men in the ranks on terms of familiarity. This is a rule that is often far from agreeable to the officer; but he has no more power to change it than you have. The reason is clear. An officer cannot mingle with the men under him on familiar terms without becoming better acquainted and more friendly with some than with others. He immediately lays himself open to the suspicion of favoritism—a suspicion which tends strongly to undermine respect and authority.
Don't Argue With Officers
Argument has no place in the army. Even favorable comment on the conduct of orders of superior officer is entirely out of place. The duty of officers and men alike is to obey promptly. However, intelligent suggestions properly made are always welcome.
The discipline of the army is just and impersonal. You will be treated with fairness. Your rights will be respected. On your part you must respect the rights and authority conferred upon others.
How to Salute Colors
The American flag carried by a regiment is known as the "colors." It is the symbol of the nation and is treated always with the deepest respect. Another flag is carried which is the symbol of the regiment and is known as the "regimental colors." It is protected with a devotion second only to that felt for the national flag itself.
Thousands of brave men in previous wars have given up their lives to save the colors of their country and their regiment from the enemy's hands. As war is now conducted, it is no longer practicable, as a rule, to carry them into battle and fight under their folds.
Ordinarily the colors when not in use are kept in the office of the colonel or in front of his tent. During the day when the weather permits they are displayed unfurled. At night and during rainy weather they are "cased," which means they are furled and protected by an oilcloth covering.
Officers and men passing an uncased color always honor it by saluting.
Show Respects to Anthem
Similar rules of respect apply to whenever "The Star Spangled Banner" is played. Officers and enlisted men not in formation stand at attention, facing toward the music (except at "retreat," when they face toward the flag). They salute at the first note of the anthem, retaining the position of salute until the last note.
Every citizen of then United States, whether a civilian or a soldier, should give expression of his loyalty and devotion to his country by showing proper marks of respect for the colors and for the national anthem. When in civilian clothes, wearing a hat or cap, the correct thing to do is to remove it and hold it in the right hand opposite the left shoulder while passing an uncased color or during playing of the national anthem. If uncovered, stand at attention.
The coming habit of rising slowly, standing in a slouching attitude, and sometimes even carrying on conversation when the national anthem is played is an indication of gross ignorance or ill breeding. On the other hand, the man who stands silent and at attention is not only showing proper respect and setting an example which will have its effect on others, but also is cultivating in himself the feelings of pride and of patriotism which should belong to every citizen of the country.
It goes without saying that disrespect to the American flag can not be tolerated. If any such instances come to your attention you should report them at once to the proper authorities in order that they may be dealt with in accordance with the law.