HONORS AND CEREMONIES
From the days when the United States first came
into being as an independent nation, tradition has
played an important role in the ceremonial functions
of our Navy. At first, most of the honors and
ceremonies rendered by our Navy were carried over
from the British Navy. Before many years, however,
the U.S. Navy began changing them to conform to its
own concepts. The U.S. Navy now has a very rigid set
of rules that covers all phases of ceremonial functions.
Of all the ratings aboard ship, Signalman is most
directly concerned with rules for rendering honors and
ceremonies. When the occasions for rendering them
arise, there is often insufficient time to search through
the regulations for needed information. That is why
Signalmen must know, in advance, what, when, how,
where, and by whom honors are rendered. This chapter
attempts to answer some of those requirements.
Additional information is contained in Flags,
Pennants and Customs, NTP 13, and U.S. Navy
Regulations, chapter 12.
LEARNING OBJECTIVE: Explain the
procedures for the display of the national
ensign, union jack, U.S. Navy flag, and United
A national flag is the flag flown to represent a
national government. The ensign is a flag designated
by a country to be flown by its men-of-war. In the
United States, the designs of the two are identical. As
used in this section, national flag and ensign are
synonymous. Aboard ship, however, the national flag
always is referred to
the rectangular blue
containing the stars.
as the ensign. The union jack is
part of the United States flag
There are numerous rules for displaying of the
national flag, some of which are discussed in the
following paragraphs. See NTP 13 for more
instructions on the display of the national flag.
The national flag must be at the center and at the
highest point of the group when a number of flags or
pennants of states, localities, or societies are grouped
and displayed from staffs.
The national flag, when displayed with another
flag against a wall from crossed staffs must be on the
rightthe flag's own rightand its staff must be in
front of the staff of the other flag.
No other flag or pennant is to be placed above or,
if on the same level, to the right of the national flag.
The only exception to this rule is during church
services conducted by naval chaplains at sea for
personnel of the Navy. Then the church or Jewish
worship pennant may be flown above the national flag.
The term at sea is interpreted to mean on board a ship
of the U.S. Navy.
Covering a Casket
When the national flag is used to cover a casket,
it must be so placed that the union is at the head over
the left shoulder. The flag must not be lowered into the
grave or allowed to touch the ground.
Behind a Speaker
When used on a speaker's platform, the national
flag, if displayed flat, is displayed above and behind
The national flag, if flown at half-mast, must first
be hoisted to the peak. On the last note of the national
anthem or "To the Colors," it is then lowered smartly
to that position. Before the flag is lowered from the
half-mast position, it is hoisted smartly to the peak on
the first note of the music and then ceremoniously