FORWARD OPERATING BASE JACKSON, Afghanistan — It is a military tradition carried out on U.S. bases throughout the world. The raising and lowering of the American flag is not just another duty for Marines, especially while deployed.
In fact, morning and evening colors is so meaningful any military members outside stop what they are doing, face the flag, snap to attention and salute. Servicemembers who are driving pull their cars over for the duration of the ceremony, until the color guard calls carry on, announcing it’s okay to continue on with their business.
“I am honored to be part of the flag detail,” said Lance Cpl. Henry Cervantes, an administrative clerk with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 6. “Not everyone gets the chance to do it. It’s a time-honored tradition, so I don’t take it lightly.”
Cervantes works with Lance Cpl. Lamarr Johnson, another administrative specialist with the battalion, and the other part of their two-man flag detail.
“Morning and evening colors is more than tradition,” said Johnson, who is from Chicago. “For me it’s about those who gave everything for their country.”
A part of Johnson’s daily responsibilities include the morning and evening color guard. Twice a day he marches out to the flagpole and calls “colors” to signify the start of the ceremony.
“I didn’t always understand the importance of the ceremony,” said Johnson. “Now that I’ve been on the flag detail and learned the proper way to fold the flag and be on time to raise and lower the flag, I take more pride in it.”
Johnson learned the commands and actions quickly once he was assigned to the detail.
“Morning and evening colors is more than tradition,” said Johnson. “For me it’s about those who gave everything for their country.”
Both of the Marines agreed the raising of the flag represents more than pieces of fabric sewn together. They said it is about their brothers in arms who lost their lives defending their country.
“Now that I’m a Marine, I have a better understanding,” said Cervantes. “I think it’s because the people who lost their lives aren’t just strangers. They are my family.”
The sense of family is why Cervantes and Johnson take their job so seriously.
The color guard will raise the American flag and the Afghan flag over the base each morning to symbolize the two nations’ partnership. These two Marines continue to add to the time-honored tradition and history of our nation’s colors.