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Army Protocol -- Question & Answer Listing  
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Question / Answer

Question:
What is the correct protocol for change of command ceremonies?

Answer:
Everyone is welcomed to attend change of command ceremonies is a clear, legal, and symbolic passing of authority and responsibility from one command to the next. The official orders are read while the unit guidon (or colors) is passed from the outgoing command to the incoming commander. The senior noncommissioned officer also participates in the passing of the colors. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the new commander normally goes to the reception area while the outgoing commander usually does not attend the reception. (Note: It has become increasingly common for a change of responsibility ceremony to be conducted when the Command Sergeant Major or First Sergeant leaves a unit.) If you received a special invitation, be sure to RSVP on time to be included in the seating assignments.

Question:
What is the correct protocol for military funerals?

Answer:
Military funerals are rich in tradition as they are meant to recognize and honor the service and sacrifice of our nations service members. A Military Funeral Honors detail will consist of at least two uniformed members of the military, with the detail leader from the parent service of the deceased. When requested by the next of kin, the ceremonial paying of respect and gratitude to those who have faithfully served our country must include the sounding of "Taps" and the ceremonial folding and presentation of the American flag to the next of kin. There are other features that may be included in a military funeral such as firing "three volleys of musketry" over the graves of fallen comrades or the riderless horse with a pair of his boots placed in reverse in the stirrups of the empty saddle symbolizing that he will never ride again. Contact your local Department of Veterans Affairs office or visit their official website or Arlington National Cemetery’s website for more information on Military Funeral Honors (http://www.va.gov; http://www.arlingtoncemetery.com)

Question:
What is the correct protocol for military weddings?

Answer:
As with other military ceremonies, military weddings are rich in tradition. It is a formal affair, with military personnel in dress uniform and commanding officers seated according to rank. One of the most memorable traditions is the "crossed sabers," also known as the "arch of sabers." It is tradition for the bride and groom to walk through the arch of swords, formed by an honor guard made up of members of the military who would normally wear a sword or saber when in dress uniform. This is meant to ensure the couple’s safe transition into their new life together. Contact the chaplain in your military community for more information on military weddings. There are also a variety of books available on military protocol and resources on the Internet.

Question:
What is the correct protocol for promotion ceremonies?

Answer:
Typically, a service member’s promotion day occurs on the first of the month in which the promotion becomes effective and the induction ceremony takes place on or about that time depending on the schedules of those involved. The forum may vary, but the basic elements are the reading of the official promotion orders and the pinning on of the new rank. Because it is such an important event for a Soldier, family, friends and co-workers are generally invited to attend and several may be included in the ceremony. For example, the Soldier’s spouse and the ranking officer or mentor of the Soldier often pins on the new rank. The ranking officer typically says a few words about the Soldier and then the Soldier has an opportunity to speak once he/she has been promoted. A reception generally follows the ceremony in order to congratulate the Soldier on his/her promotion. Promotion parties are separate, nonofficial functions and are at the discretion of the individual being promoted.

Question:
What is the correct protocol for receptions?

Answer:
Formal receptions generally include a receiving line where attendees are invited to go through in order to meet and greet the guest of honor. Except for receiving lines at the White House, diplomatic corps, and Air Force functions, ladies precede gentlemen in the line. Names are given to the aide or adjutant is at the beginning of the line who then introduces you to the guest of honor. Your name(s) are passed on down the receiving line. Be sure to reintroduce yourself if there is a problem. A handshake and simple, cordial greeting is appropriate (no lengthy conversations). However, do not shake the aide or adjutant’s hand, only the guest(s) of honor. Consult your local military Protocol office for more information.

Question:
What is the correct protocol for retirement ceremonies?

Answer:
Retirement ceremonies recognize a person's years of service to his or her country and includes an official reading of the orders and presentations of certificates and awards. Attendance at a retirement ceremony is a thoughtful way to show your appreciation for the person retiring.

Question:
When is it necessary for someone to stand for a senior officer or lady?

Answer:
Etiquette calls for gentlemen should always stand up when a lady enters a room (or your presence in a large room) and should stand when a lady stands. It is also expected that both men and women stand for when toasts are given at official functions. However, ladies are told to take their seats when a toast is made to "the ladies." Ladies (except female service members) are not expected to stand when a senior officer enters the room, but uniformed service members are.
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