Massing of Colors



  • Massing of the Colors is a patriotic ceremony held to rededicate our faith in the United States, and to present our support to the National Colors and the Servicemen and Servicewomen those Colors represent. It combines the colors and color guards of Active, Reserve and National Guard military components (units), and veteran, civic and patriotic organizations.
  • MOWW chapters conduct Massing of the Colors throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. These ceremonies usually  involve color guard units from:  Active-Duty,  Reserve  and  National Guard military units; Senior and Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps  (ROTC)  units;  armed services auxiliary organizations; state militias; veteran and civic groups; police, sheriff and fire departments; and Boy Scout and Girl Scout organizations.


  • The Society of the Massing of the Colors first held a patriotic ceremony on Armistice Day in 1922. MOWW inherited the responsibility for conducting this event across the country in 1927 when the original sponsoring Society faded away.  To date, MOWW is the only Veteran Service Organization (VSO) in the United States to conduct such ceremonies.

Ceremony and Venue

  • Each color guard unit carries, at least, the National Colors and its unit colors. Massings of the Colors are conducted indoors and outdoors. War memorials, community pavilions, athletic fields, arenas, public schools and churches are other venues for the ceremony as they accommodate parading of the colors and to provide ample seating spectators during the event.
  • These venues usually have a central stage for ceremony officials, and music normally complements the entry and exit of the color guards. A bugler typically plays “Taps” to honor fallen service members.  At outdoor events, a rifle squad or a saluting cannon battery may fire three volleys to complement this tribute.

Presiding Official

  • The ceremony’s presiding official is the “Grand Marshal,” who is usually a general, admiral or field-grade officer (active or retired) of the United States Armed Forces. The Grand Marshal is the Master of Ceremonies. The principal assistant to the Grand Marshal is the “Adjutant of the MOWW Colors,” who oversees the assembly, entry and exit of the color guard units. Most ceremonies also have an “announcer” who reads color guard unit names as they enter the venue for the ceremony.

Ceremony Events

  • Massing of the Colors usually begins with the Grand Marshal directing the “march-on” of the color guard units. Once the colors are “massed,” a Chaplain (who may be a military chaplain, priest, minister, rabbi or imam) pronounces an invocation. This is followed by recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, singing of the National Anthem and the reading of the MOWW “Preamble,” which states the les which guide MOWW’s service to others.  
  • These actions are normally followed by welcoming remarks by the Commander of MOWW chapter hosting the event. After the opening ceremonies, the guest speaker provides keynote remarks.  The guest speaker may be: a currently-serving, retired or former military officer; a ranking national, regional or department official of the MOWW; a prominent official of national, state or local government, or; a renowned leader of an academic institution or civic organization, or published author.
  • These remarks are followed by a non-sectarian “Blessing of the Colors” by the Chaplain and the rendering of honors to those who have given their lives in the service of our Country. When the playing of “Taps” is completed, the Chaplain pronounces a benediction. The Grand Marshal then directs the assembled colors to be retired. When the last color guard unit has exited the venue, the ceremony is concluded with remarks by the Grand Marshal.
  • Related Activities Many Massing of the Colors ceremonies conducted by MOWW chapters are more elaborate and typically include pre-ceremony parades, rendition of several pieces of patriotic music, the reading of appropriate psalms or patriotic writings, presentation of MOWW local or national awards, the static display of military artifacts or equipment, or the fly-over of military aircraft. 
  • Whether large or small, simple or elaborate, Massing of the Colors is an impressive educational event and a moving patriotic ceremony.  It is a “must-see” for Americans of all ages, and will remain in perpetuity, a “signature” event of the Military Order of the World Wars.

"It is nobler to serve than to be served"