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The U.S. Armed Forces Honor Guard -- Photo provided by Military District of WashingtonThere are approximately 700 members in the Armed Forces Honor Guards stationed in the D.C. area. A unique office called Ceremonies and Special Events, which comes under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington at Fort Lesley J. McNair, coordinates all joint-service activities.

The men and women of a U.S. Armed Forces Honor Guard ... maintain an impeccable appearance, high moral standards and strict military order and discipline, while performing in front of the world's most important leaders.

As the official ceremonial units for their respective services, the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard Honor Guards routinely participate in ceremonies at the Pentagon, the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery, national memorials and throughout the Washington area.

Honor Guard

At the White House, 355 troops participate in arrival ceremonies for heads of state, as well as ambassador credentialing. These ceremonies are rich in American tradition and present an impressive image that extends around the globe.

Additionally, the Armed Forces Honor Guard provides casket teams, firing parties and marching platoons for funerals in Arlington National Cemetery when the dignitary being buried commanded armed-forces troops during his or her military career. Gen. of the Army Omar Bradley and Gen. Maxwell Taylor are examples.

Armed Forces Color Team

The Armed Forces Color Team consists of eight service members, who are at least 6 feet tall. An Old Guard soldier carries the American flag, while each service carries its respective flag. A soldier and Marine flank the color team, carrying M14 rifles.

State and Territorial Flags

During arrival, departure, and wreath ceremonies for heads of state and other high-ranking dignitaries, the 57 state and territorial flags are carried by an armed-forces team. The Coast Guard, because of manpower limits, does not participate.

Although each of the five services provides members to make up the armed-forces team, the individual honor guards have many more responsibilities. These include participation in their respective summer programs and parades in Washington, D.C., wreath ceremonies and funerals at Arlington National Cemetery. Additionally, the military honor guard have a dual mission of providing security for the nation's capital.

As the Department of Defense's official representative in the national-capital area, the Armed Forces Honor Guard brings to mind the thousands who have given their lives for the freedom of this nation and those who stand ready to defend it again. Its units represent men and women from every state in the Union and epitomize the professionalism and dedication of today's Armed Services.

Information Provided by... Military District of Washington

Note... See the USAF Honor Guard Basic Protocol, Honors, and Ceremonies handbook (pdf format) for specific answers about the presentation ceremony of the colors. (Handbook provided by UShistory.org)

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