June 3, 2015 --
The Marines from Marine Barracks Washington, D.C., represent to the Nations’ Capital the thousands of active duty Marines that make up the ranks of the Marine Corps.
The Marine Corps Color Guard represents the entire Corps during more than 1,200 events annually, averaging between 15 and 30 events per week. These events range from Joint Color Guard Events that require two Marines, Sea Service Color Guards that require three Marines and Marine Corps Color Guard events that require four Marines.
In each of these events Marines don the Official Battle Colors of the Marine Corps, weighing roughly 30 pounds. The fifty-four colored streamers which adorn the Battle Colors represent the history and accomplishments of the Marine Corps. The National Standard and the Battle Colors of the Marine Corps’ are perfectly steamed and pressed along with the well kempt uniforms of the Marines.
“These Colors represent the men and women who gave their lives and paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Sgt. Allen Banks Jr., the 36th color sergeant of the Marine Corps. “We take great pride in what we do every day.”
The Marines selected to shoulder the nation's ensign in the Color Guard are all between 6’2” and 6’6” and are all 0311, Infantrymen. They go through a three month long Ceremonial Drill School where they learn all the required drill movements for Color Guard. These movements include rifle manual, color manual and marching.
The Marines do not just learn this drill once; they practice their drill daily in an attempt to achieve perfection.
“We regularly evaluate all our Marines to ensure they are kept to our high standards,” said Cpl. Chad Mikolas, the color guard drill master.
The color guard also has to be in superb shape. There are times during ceremonies where they have to stand at the position of attention or "ceremonial at ease" for hours at a time. The longest ceremony the color guard participated in was the Passage of Command last October.
When you are standing at ceremonial at ease, similar to parade rest except hands are folded in front of the body, there is a sense of uncertainty if your legs are going to work when called to attention, said Mikolas. “Parade legs are a real thing.”
The color guard Marines take their duty very seriously. Before every event, they have ceremonial preparation time. During this time the Marines will perfect their uniforms and ensure the colors are in pristine condition. It is also during this time they focus on the ceremony and concentrate on their task at hand.
“It is about much more than the Marines here,” said Banks. It is about every single man and woman that has worn the Uniform.