South Jersey Chapter Color Guard
HISTORY OF THE COLOR GUARD The Color Guard of the 21st century is primarily ceremonial in terms of purpose and duty. However, the origins of the Color Guard are based in military practicality. The following is a concise history of the origin of the Color Guard. During the 18th and 19th centuries, flags were commonly referred to as “the Colors.” These colors were of primary importance to the military regiment or brigade as the line of battle was formed around the colors of the unit which were placed at the center of the line. These colors were easily seen through the smoke of battle. If the colors advanced, the line would advance. If the colors retired, the line would retire. As battles would progress and casualties mounted, the line would contract to the colors. In effect, the colors would serve as a rallying point if the line was broken or the men became dispersed. Thus, success in battle was often dependent on the handling of the colors. The importance of the colors was so significant that a ceremony was performed before battle called “The Trooping of the Colors.” The men of the regiment or brigade were assembled on the parade ground in camp and the colors were paraded before them. This way, each man would see and thus be certain of his colors before taking the field of battle. Likewise, while there could be many diverse objectives in a battle, one of the most important was capturing of the colors of the enemy unit. This would deprive the enemy of their primary means of control and rallying point during the battle. To prevent this, regiments and brigades would select the most valiant men to protect the colors and color bearer. These men comprised the “Color’s Guard,” a posting of great honor and source of pride. As in years past, this posting continues to be a position of honor. WHAT IS THE NATIONAL SOCIETY SAR COLOR GUARD? The National Society SAR Color Guard is made up of those Compatriots who participate in SAR meetings and events properly uniformed as either Continental Soldiers or Militiamen, or attired as Revolution-era clergymen. – 2 – These men seek to visibly promote the stated objectives of the SAR which are declared to be Historical, Patriotic and Educational. Therefore, it is important that a Revolutionary War uniformed Color Guard fielded by the SAR to be historically correct so as to not compromise these objectives. Every time an SAR Color Guard makes a public appearance, the members are fulfilling all three objectives. In fact, the Color Guard is one of the most visible and effective public relations tools available to the SAR. A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE NATIONAL SOCIETY SAR COLOR GUARD The National Society SAR Color Guard was first formed in 1989 during the term of President General James R. Westlake (GA) as the National Society Color Guard Committee under the chairmanship of Compatriots David Judson Gray and Donald Norman Moran. This first National Color Guard consisted of six compatriots representing five state societies. The initial purposes of the Color Guard were: To provide guidance to and coordination of the activities of the various State Society and Chapter Color Guards at National Congresses and Trustee meetings, and To provide assistance to the various State and Chapter Color Guards in establishing their own Color Guards. The National Color Guard grew to 32 members representing fourteen state societies by 2000 and now regularly has over 50 men representing over twenty-five state societies participate in the three annual meetings of the National Society SAR. Today, the National Color Guard is the most visible public face of the Sons of the American Revolution. Color Guardsmen provide an easily identifiable and colorful focal point at parades and memorial events. The variety of uniforms and flags invite children, spectators, and potential members to come forward and ask questions about the American Revolution.