Marine color guards are ceremonial and usually found leading a parade. The unknown artist who created the painting that I have pictured below, depicts the colors being carried in the field. Richard McKenna, a 1930's sailor who wrote The Sand Pebbles, an adventure story that takes place on a Yangtze River gunboat, described Old Glory thusly: "We can know America through our flag which is its symbol, he said quietly. In our flag the barriers of time and space vanish. All America that ever was and ever will be lives every moment in our flag. Wherever in the world two or three of us stand together under our flag, all America is there. When we stand proudly and salute our flag, that is what we know wordlessly in the passing moment." McKenna when on to say: "Understand that our flag is not the cloth but the pattern of form and color manifested in the cloth, Lt. Collins was saying. It could have been any pattern once, but our fathers chose that one. History has made it sacred. The honor paid it in uncounted acts of individual reverence has made it live." The days when tattered regimental flags led men into battle are long gone, but gallant Marines still serve our republic as an elite fighting force. This art was originally a recruiting poster titled "Spirit of 1917," but it was also used by the Fourth Marines as the cover for their 1940 regimental telephone directory.
marine art

The first time that United States Marines carried the Stars and Stripes to war was in 1847 when they attacked the Halls of Montezuma in Mexico City. Marines who served during the War of 1812 guarded ships. These detachments were known as Marine Guards, and they did their duty under their ship's national colors. Marine Guards weren't issued flags or any item that pertained to flags. Author Irving Werstein writes in his The Stars and Stripes, the Story of our Flag: "General George Washington repeatedly asked that the troops be allowed to carry the national colors, but for some reason Congress refused to grant permission until March of 1783, more than a year after the last land battle of the Revolutionary War."

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